Bounty hunters are nothing more than private persons (i.e., not peace officers), especially when it comes to breaking into someone’s home to make an arrest. California’s bounty hunter statutory scheme, which superseded Taylor v. Taintor, makes clear a bounty hunter “shall not forcibly enter a premises except as provided for in [Penal Code] Section 844.” See, PC 1299.09. In turn, Section 844 states, “To make an arrest, a private person . . . may break open the door or window of the house in which the person to be arrested is, or in which they have reasonable grounds for believing the person to be.” Some bounty hunters think that as long as they, subjectively (i.e., their own personal thoughts and reasoning), think a defendant is inside a home, they’re free to kick down the door. In one particular lawsuit we’re handling, bounty hunters admitted their only reason for believing a defendant was inside were statements made to them by others (i.e., hearsay) who had supposedly seen the defendant coming and going in the past. However, the law is clear that even police officers, much less bounty hunters, cannot rely on hearsay to enter a home. This is true even for a peace officer who was told by another peace officer that the defendant was seen entering the home: “The statements of the fellow officer, being hearsay on hearsay, could not by themselves have constituted reasonable grounds.” People v. Pease (1966) 242 Cal.App.2d 442. Some bounty hunters think they’re free to enter a defendant’s own home simply because it’s the defendant’s own home, even if they don’t know if the defendant is home at the time of entry. This is also illegal–even for police officers: “The officers did not have an objectively reasonable belief as required by Cal. Penal Code §844 that defendant was home at the time of the officers’ visit. The officers’ entry into the home was an illegal breaking.” People v. Jacobs (1987) 43 Cal.3d 472. The bottom line is that a bounty hunter doesn’t get to break into a house just because she has reason to think the fugitive might be there. The bounty hunter’s own subjective belief is not the standard. “The term ’reasonable grounds’ as used in section 844 is the substantial equivalent of the terms ’reasonable cause’ and ’probable cause.’ . . . Reasonable grounds to believe the person named in the warrant was in the house means such a state of fact as would lead a man of ordinary caution or prudence to believe, and to conscientiously entertain a strong suspicion the subject of the warrant was in the house.” People v. Jacobs (1987) 43 Cal.3d 472. It’s an understatement to say illegally entering someone else’s home is dangerous. Even if you have the right to defend your home, consider instead calling 911 and then turning on your video camera if someone playing bounty hunter illegally demands entry. It may just be a massive legal misunderstanding on the bounty hunter’s part, perhaps because he or she was taught jailhouse law that clings to Taylor v. Taintor’s 140-year-old superseded dicta.