The requirements on how to become a bail bond enforcement officer vary greatly between states. There are at least four states which prohibit both the bail bonds industry and bounty hunting: Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon, and Wisconsin. In other states, bail bond enforcement officers are largely unregulated, and people can do the work of a bounty hunter without much else than the desire to do so.
Somewhere in between these two extremes are states in which bail bond enforcement officers are recognized, but are regulated. Most of the time, the regulatory bodies are either the state insurance commission, the department of finance, or the judiciary. Some states require bounty hunters to be licensed or to have gone through a prescribed form of formal training before they can be allowed to practice their profession. There are at least 22 states to date that require bail bond enforcement officers to be licensed.
The basic requirements for who qualifies to be bail bond enforcement officers also vary between states, but in general terms, the requirements are pretty much what you would expect:
- Age requirement of at least 18 years old
- Resident of the state for at least a year or more
- Training and certification
- Must have a clean record, or must not have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor or crimes involving moral turpitude
When a bail bond enforcement officer’s license expires, should they wish to renew their license, they are expected to comply with similar requirements, including continuing hours of training and education, and the payment of prescribed fees.
Interestingly, some states also include prohibitions on who cannot become bounty hunters, and this prohibition covers various professions such as law enforcement, judicial officers, and lawyers.
Getting a job as a bail bond enforcement officer requires skills in other directions, too – networking, building relationships with the Bakersfield bail bondsman, and coordinating with law enforcement officers. Most of the work that comes to a bail bond enforcement officer comes through word of mouth and networks. The good news is that once you have begun to establish a reputation for yourself as a professional who delivers, then work is likely to come in a steady stream.
Those are the legal and statutory requirements for becoming a bail bond enforcement officer, but the personal requirements go much deeper. In a sense, one who becomes a bounty hunter should expect various skills to come into play: investigative, surveillance, physical fitness, self-defense, and even the ability to use licensed firearms. To round it all off, one who hopes to succeed in being a bounty hunter has to have diplomatic skills, too – he will not only be dealing with local law enforcement agents, but he will also be expected to adhere to legal means in pursuit of his goal of capturing or apprehending a fugitive. This requires a broad-minded, skillful, versatile person to deal with expected local politics while at the same time navigating the expected legal hurdles and physical dangers of his work. One might wonder whether collecting the bounty is worth it.
For some, it is, although they essentially have to keep adapting to local laws and statutes as they track a fugitive across state lines. The laws differ depending on which state you are in. This means he risks real jail time for practicing his profession in a state or country that prohibits bounty hunting. And he may open himself to a host of civil, administrative, and even criminal prosecution if he doesn’t adhere to local laws. There are certain states, for instance, that mandate that bail bond enforcement officers should coordinate with local law enforcement officers in capturing a fugitive, thereby denying them the right to make the arrest themselves. On the other hand, certain states prescribe regulations in how bail bond enforcement officers conduct their business, including regulations on what attire they could and could not wear, particularly during an arrest. This is mostly to prevent people from mistakenly identifying them as law enforcement officers.
Laws also differ on when a bail bond enforcement agent can legally enter into private property without being cited for trespass. Some of those requirements include: a personal knowledge that the fugitive owns and is currently living within the said house; having reasonable cause to believe that the fugitive is inside before they enter the property; consent from all the people inside the home that they could enter; and prior notification to local law enforcement officers of their intent to enter into the said private property.
The bottom line is that being a bail bond enforcement officer is as much a legitimate career choice for some people as anything else. It is a way for those who have the appropriate background, skills, training, and education, to earn a legitimate income from the practice of their profession. Salary can range from ten to twenty percent, sometimes higher, of the bail bond amount, and while the income that you make depends on the number of cases you work, some very successful bounty hunters do make a good living.