Skip Tracing Is Like Detective Work
Bondsmen and bounty hunters use skip tracing to track down a defendant who has skipped bail. Skip tracing is also used by private detectives to find a person or to find out information about a person. A defendant who skips bail does not want to be found for numerous reasons – the main reason is that he or she may fear having to serve a prison sentence.
Both bounty hunters and private detectives find and carefully assess information about their subject. Skip tracing helps uncover facts about the person and helps the bounty hunter find the defendant so he can be re-apprehended. Most skip tracing research is done on the computer. The bounty hunter or the private investigator may find information about the defendant by obtaining access to prior arrest reports, judgments, old phone numbers, current phone numbers, motor vehicle records, convictions, and other memberships and registrations. With the right online tools, skip tracing can follow a defendant’s electronic footprints.
Bounty hunters, bondsmen, and private detectives who use skip tracing must abide by federal, state, and local rules such as privacy laws, trespass laws, and other laws regarding contact between the skip tracer and the defendant. A skip tracer may not obtain information illegally. Evidence must be collected in the correct way, in the event it is to be used in court.
Skip tracing involves creating reports while investigating the location and activities of a defendant. Reports may also come from interviews with other parties known to the defendant. While a private detective may specialize and do certain types of skip tracing, a bounty hunter is schooled in using most of the tools available to skip tracers.
Skip tracing, like detective work, requires time away from home and office – this time is spent on surveillance and following up on leads. Leads may come in from third-party interviews or from the results of a research. A person who does skip tracing, like a detective, does not need formal education to perform detective duties or to do a skip trace on a defendant. Bounty hunters or private detectives with skip tracing skills are in high demand in the field to assist bond agents in locating individuals who have skipped out on bail.