In Alabama, the profession of bail bondsman is licensed and regulated by the state Department of Insurance. In order to join this rewarding profession, prospective bail bondsmen must complete the following steps:
|Evaluate Personal Qualifications
|Complete Alabama Educational and Training Requirements
|Pass the Alabama Bail Bondsman Licensing Exam
|Apply for a Alabama State License
|Find Employment in Alabama as a Bail Bondsman
Serving as a bail bondsman in Alabama can be a challenging occupation, but one that can also be extremely rewarding financially and personally. Bail bondsmen in Alabama and throughout the country serve in an essential role helping defendants who are awaiting trial make bond. Bail is a financial guarantee that must be provided to the court and assures that the defendant will appear for their trial. In Alabama, a bail bondsman will provide the bail in exchange for a percentage of the bail amount, usually ten percent.
A bond agreement between the defendant and the bail bondsman is essentially a financial loan. Like most loans, there is usually some form of collateral that is signed as surety to ensure that the bond amount will be repaid. This is may take the form of houses, stocks, or other valuable property. In some cases, a bail bondsman may request a guarantor, or co-signer, who assumes responsibility for the bond if the defendant fails to appear.
If the defendant appears for their court date, the bail is returned to the originator, in this case, the bail bondsman. If, however, the defendant does not appear, then a variety of responses are executed. The presiding court will issue a bench warrant, which allows police or authorized personnel to arrest the defendant. At this point the bail bondsman may hire a bail recovery agent to track down, apprehend and return the defendant to the court. If the bail recovery agent is successful, then the court may exonerate the bail amount and return it to the bail bondsman.
Step 1: Evaluate Personal Qualifications
Because the profession of bail bondsman is essentially a financial insurance occupation, the Alabama Department of Insurance rigorously polices practitioners. Bail bondsmen must meet the personal and professional requirements established by Alabama state law and DOI regulations which include:
- Must be at least 18 years of age
- Must be a resident of the State of Alabama
- Must have no record of felony convictions or convictions involving a crime of moral turpitude
- Cannot have violated any provisions of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure related to making bonds or a Court Order.
- Must possess the financial net worth necessary to fulfill any financial obligations to borrowers
- Cannot have any outstanding forfeitures resulting from a surety undertaking
In addition to these licensing requirements, Alabama also requires that any bail companies present a bond of at least $25,000 to the probate judge of the county ensuring that they possess sufficient funds to operate as a financial institution.
Step 2: Complete Alabama Educational and Training Requirements
Prior to taking the licensing exam, all prospective bail bondsmen must take a 20 hour pre-licensing course. This course is currently offered at one of three state certified schools in the Birmingham area. These courses include instruction in
- Language of Bail
- History of Suretyship
- Beginning a Bail Company
- Arrest and Release
- Criminal Defendant Bonds
- Fulfilling the Bail Obligation
- Forfeitures and Judgments
- Collateral and Indemnity
There are also a number of schools which offer online or on-campus courses around the state. Upon completion of the course, graduates must receive a Certificate of Completion, which is necessary to sit for the licensing exam and to apply for a license.
Step 3: Take the Alabama State Licensing Exam
The Alabama Insurance Producer exam is a 50 question exam which must be completed within 60 minutes. The exam will include questions from all nine modules of the pre-licensing training course. A score of 35 out of 50 is required to pass this exam. Applicants may register to take the exam at a variety of testing centers throughout the state.
Step 4: Apply for a Alabama State License
Prospective bail bondsmen may apply for the Alabama state license through the National Insurance Producer Registry site here. A $60 fee must be paid with a credit card online. Documentation including proof of pre-licensing course completion must be mailed to:
Alabama Department of Insurance
Attn: Examination Division
P. O. Box 303351
Montgomery, Alabama 36130-3351
The license will be issued through the NIPR site and may be viewed online or downloaded from the site. The license is good for two years and expires on the bail bondsman’s birthday. In order to qualify for license renewal bail bond limited producers must complete at least 24 hours of continuing education credit hours prior to expiration of the current license.
Step 5: Work as a Business Proprietor or for Another Bail Bondsman in Alabama
For new bail bondsmen, it is often a good idea to work for a more established company before founding an entrepreneurial venture. There are many well established bail companies in Alabama that can help provide valuable experience including Alabama Bail Bonds and #1 Bail Bonding.
For bail bondsmen who would like to establish contacts within the state industry, they may find other bail professionals at the Alabama Bail Agents Association.