Key Tasks and Skills for Bounty Hunting
Bail enforcement agents (BEA), also known as bounty hunters or fugitive recovery agents, provide a number of services to their bail bondsmen clients. The end result - apprehending a skipped client - is only possible after the BEA completes his or her investigation. Knowledge of computer databases is a key skill, which allows the bail enforcement agent to research a fugitive's habits and contacts. Excellent people skills and the ability to notice details are also important.
Introductory courses are available online, covering basic industry terminology and the fundamental procedures of bail enforcement, as well as legal and ethical considerations for agents. However, some states require in-class hours before awarding licensure. In order to enroll, applicants may need to submit letters of recommendation and/or provide proof of additional licensure.
Bail Enforcement Agent Certification
Certification and licensing laws for bail enforcement agents vary from state to state. Some states, such as Illinois, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Oregon, do not have bail bond systems and do not allow bail enforcement agencies to arrest fugitives. In states that do permit bounty hunters, the licensing requirements and procedures vary; in some states, individuals must be licensed as a private investigator, bail bond agent, police officer or even a collection agency. California and Texas have more restrictive licensing requirements than most states.
California Fugitive Recovery Agent Requirements
Licenses for bail enforcement and bail bond agents are obtained from the Department of Insurance in California. Bail enforcement agents in California who are not licensed police officers or bail enforcement agents from another state must take a 40-hour power of arrest course that is certified by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards, and carry their certificate of completion when at work. They must also complete 20 hours of classroom education pursuant to the California Insurance code on subjects related to the laws, ethics and regulations of the apprehension of bail fugitives, including the rights of the accused.
Texas Bounty Hunter Requirements
In Texas, bail enforcement agents must be sworn peace officers, licensed private investigators or commissioned security officers. Texas law restricts the activities of bounty hunters, preventing them from entering homes without permission. Bounty hunters must also have a written authorization from the bail agent before apprehending the fugitive. State law includes a number of restrictions on where and how fugitives are held after being captured.
Training for Bail Enforcement Agents
Restrictions like those mentioned above limit the training options for bounty hunters. California and Texas require bail enforcement agents to take classes in person from approved training programs. Many of these programs, however, do offer introductory materials online. These books and beginning courses give the student an overview of the profession and some basic terminology.
Online Bail Enforcement Agent Courses
A few private businesses offer bounty hunter or bail enforcement classes for an upfront fee. Most of the training requires students to attend a class, but there are also online options, usually in the form of pre-recorded audio and video presentations. These courses cover a multitude of subjects. Students will need to check with the laws of their jurisdictions to assess whether such an online program will provide the required training.
Typical course topics include:
- The history of bail enforcement
- Obtaining insurance
- The bail bond system
- Prisoner transport
- Ethical and legal issues of bail enforcement
Online Training for Private Investigators
Some states require bail enforcement agents to be licensed private investigators. These states have their own regulations on attaining this status, which may or may not include attending an online program. In any case, a few colleges offer online training for private investigators, generally through extension programs, which result in a certificate. Some of these programs require applicants to submit letters of reference along with their applications. The curriculum is designed both for professionals - such as insurance adjusters, paralegals, and law enforcement professionals, and those just starting out in private investigation.
Course topics include:
- Internet research
- The investigative process
- Investigative research
Online Training for Bail Bond Agents
For those living in states that require bail enforcement agents to acquire a bail bond agent's license, online training is available from a few colleges. These online programs can be completed within a year and include assignments and an examination; they are pre-licensing courses, which enable a graduate to sit for a licensing exam.
Course topics may include areas like:
- The bail bond business
- Writing and underwriting bonds
- State laws covering bond agents
Individuals who want to become BEAs or pursue related careers may find introductory training courses online through private businesses or postsecondary institutions. These courses can help students prepare for various state licensure exams.