How to Become a Bounty Hunter/Fugitive Enforcement Agent

Bounty Hunter

When a person is arrested and charged with a crime, a judge may release them from police custody until their trial if they pay a set amount of money called bail. If the accused does not then re-appear in court when required, a fugitive enforcement agent, also referred to as a bounty hunter, locates and apprehends the fugitive and returns them to police custody.

Encorcement agents or bounty hunters typically work for bail bondsmen. The amount of money required for bail can be in the thousands of dollars, and if the accused does not have that money on hand, they can use the services of a bail bondsman, who will pledge money to the court on their behalf. If a bondsman’s client does not appear in court when required, they will employ a bounty hunter to find the client so the bondsman is not responsible for the bail amount. Not all states allow the purchase of bail bonds, and in some states, bounty hunting is illegal.

What kind of training is required to become a fugitive enforcement agent/bounty hunter?

Though bail enforcement agents do not have the same powers as police officers, many have a background in law enforcement. Some states that license bounty hunters require law enforcement experience, but experience as a private investigator or in the armed forces may count as well.

Bounty hunters in many states are required to complete a training course that includes instruction in topics like the use of force, laws of arrest, search and seizure, constitutional rights, defensive tactics, and safety techniques. Firearm training may be required as well.

Bail enforcement agents should also have strong investigative and interviewing skills. Knowing how to locate and talk to a fugitive are integral to the success of a recovery.

Are there any certification or licensure requirements?

Bail enforcement agents in many states where bounty hunting is legal must have a license to engage in the practice. Requirements vary across states, but in general, bounty hunters must be at least 18 or 21 years old and pass a criminal history background check. Bail enforcement agents are also expected to complete training courses, pass licensing exams, and meet requirements for experience in law enforcement, personal investigation, or the armed forces. Some states require bounty hunters who do not have related experience to complete an internship or apprenticeship with a licensed bail enforcement agent.

Bail enforcement agents in several states must complete training in the use of firearms or other weapons like pepper spray, tasers, and batons. They may also be required to purchase a surety bond.

How long does it take to become a bounty hunter?

The amount of time it takes to become a bounty hunter depends on one’s background and experience. Those with several years of law enforcement experience may be able to transition into this field without completing any additional training, while those who are entering the field with little or no related experience may take weeks to complete training and then an additional year in an internship or apprenticeship.

What does a bounty hunter earn?

Bounty hunters earn money for every defendant they apprehend and return to the courts, typically 10 percent of the bond posted for that defendant. A bounty hunter’s success depends on how many fugitives he returns to custody.

What are the job prospects?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics groups bail enforcement agents with private detectives and investigators and projects that employment in this field will grow by 11 percent between 2012 and 2020. Job prospects will be best for bail enforcement agents with experience and strong investigative skills.

What are the long term career prospects for bounty hunters?

Many bounty hunters start their career working part-time, but successful bounty hunters can attract enough cases to work full-time. With enough experience, bail enforcement agents may start their own agencies or go into training.

How can I find a job as a bounty hunter?

Bail enforcement agents typically receive cases through bail bondsmen, so it is important to build a network of contacts in this field. New bounty hunters can start building this network by volunteering their time with experienced bounty hunters.

How can I learn more about becoming a bounty hunter?

If you want to become a bail enforcement agent, you will need to know what your state’s requirements are for bounty hunters. For example, is the practice legal? Must bounty hunters be licensed, and what are the requirements for licensure? You should be able to find this information through your state’s licensing board or department of criminal justice or public safety.

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