LAS CRUCES, N.M. — They help get people out of jail but the job of a bondsman can turn dangerous when they have to search for people who failed to show up to court.
Before tracking anybody down, a bondsman will go to great lengths in hopes of having the person come in voluntarily.
"What we do first is make sure the person is avoiding his obligations," said Dario Gomez owner of Dario Gomez Bail Bonds in Las Cruces.
Gomez said there's instances where there's confusion with the courts and that could be a reason why the person failed to appear for a hearing.
"For some reason they didn't get paperwork to show up to court or something happens and they can issue a warrant for them," Gomez said.
The process to bail someone out is fairly simple.
Gomez has his clients, a family member or anybody else willing to assume responsibility sign a promissory note assuring Gomez they will pay back the 10 percent bond gomez posts.
From there the person completes an application with contact information and references.
Once released, the person must check in with gomez on a weekly basis and begin attending hearings.
"He goes to his arraignment or if he hasn't been arraigned then he still reports to us and we keep in touch with each other so that way he doesn't miss any of his court dates."
In his experience, Gomez has seen cases where the person purposely fails to show in court.
That's when Gomez will have to try and contact the person in hopes of having them come in and resolve the matter.
"It's not like dog the bounty hunter where you just start kicking doors in and going in after everybody that's in the movies," Gomez said.
So before going to someone's home, Gomez works the phones calling the person directly or anybody else who might know them.
If he's able to contact them, he's usually able to convince them into turning themselves in.
"You treat people with respect and they'll treat you with respect and mostly likely a hundred percent of the time we can resolve the whole situation," Gomez said.
If calling relatives and contacts doesn't work, Gomez then begins investigating where the person might be, possibly searching homes.
"It's a touch and go situation. Nobody wants to go back to jail so sometimes in debtors work with you sometimes they don't," Gomez said.
He said knocking on the door is the absolute last thing he wants to do.
He never wants anybody to get hurt, especially if there's children.
He compared approaching a home to what a police officer prepares for when pulling someone over.
"He doesn't know what he's coming into," Gomez said. "When I go after somebody at their house I don't know what's going to happen I don't know what's coming at me."
That was the case in Montana Vista last October when an El Paso bail bondsman along with three El Paso County Sheriff's deputies attempted to arrest a man who had skipped out on his bail.
Investigators said the man fired at least four shots toward the group.
Nobody was hit, but Lopez barricaded himself in the home.
He was found dead hours later when deputies went into to the home.
It's situations like those Gomez fears the most.
He urged people to communicate with their bondsman if they have questions.
He tells his clients even if they're asleep and you have a wild dream thinking they had court, give him a call at anytime of day or night.
"Don't panic," Gomez said. "Let me know what you're problem is, lets work it out lets talk it out and then we'll go from there."