Just How Legal Are All Of Teenage Bounty Hunters’ Shenanigans?

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
As the title quite literally suggests, Netflix's Teenage Bounty Hunters is indeed about teenagers who are bounty hunters. And if you're wondering how that could be legal, it's not. The show skips past the legality issue fairly quickly, with local frozen yogurt shop owner/bounty hunter Bowser (Kadeem Hardison) taking on twins Blair (Anjelica Bette Fellini) and Sterling (Maddie Phillips) as his "interns." His bondswoman Yolanda (Shirley Rumierk) is also more than happy to overlook the fact that they're minors chasing wanted criminals. 
"We can just kind of get away with it because [the show's] so out there," Phillips tells Refinery29. "It's not meant to be like a documentary or anything." Fellini agrees, saying, "The show is fictional at the end of the day, so you're really not gonna see minors doing things like bounty hunting … You suspend your disbelief that Yolanda and Bowser just sort of wink, wink, allow the girls to become bounty hunters. I think it's very special, and it makes the show unique."
Advertisement
Blair and Sterling are good at what they do, but since they also can't legally obtain a bounty hunter license, Bowser can pay them next to nothing for doing almost all the same work he's doing. But, like, they're okay with it because it gets them out of their strict Christian household and into some action. In real life, this situation would never be able to slide, because actual bounty hunting is a tightly regulated industry that's only legal in America and the Philippines, according to Georgia's Gwinnett Daily Post.
Rules vary from state to state, but in Georgia, where the show takes place, bounty hunters (or bail recovery agents, as they're more often called) have to meet several stringent requirements. First of all, they have to be 21, so Blair and Sterling are definitely out. They also have to complete a firearms training course, get a gun permit, partake in an eight-hour course on fugitive recovery, be employed by a reputable bail company, and obtain a license from the local sheriff. They also can't have been convicted of a felony, drug charge, or have been hospitalised for mental health issues or alcohol and drug dependency within the past five years. It's serious business.
In one episode, Blair is shocked to find out that bounty hunters themselves can get arrested, and that's actually true. Per the Gwinnett Daily Post, bounty hunters aren't afforded the same protections that police officers are. Bail recovery agents are liable for damages to property or injuries to the person they're arresting. They can also be criminally processed for using excessive force or making false arrests. Should… we be giving police officers the same rules bounty hunters have?
Teenage Bounty Hunters ignores most of these rules and regulations for the comedic nature of having a show about minors who are skilled at catching criminals, but who also deal with regular teen issues. As Fellini says, it's part of what makes the show special and unique that it just kind of skips over the legality issue much like how the people they're trying to catch skipped bail. And in that sense, the real "skip" of the series is the series itself.

More from TV

R29 Original Series