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The steps to becoming a bounty hunter in California are as follows:
|Prepare to Meet California State Requirements|
|Consider Higher Education|
|Take the Required Courses|
|Pursue Employment with California Bails Bonds Companies|
In California, the compensation for bounty hunters can be quite good, and they’re given some unique opportunities for additional income. According to Proposition 65, bounty hunters who possess an intimate understanding of the regulations involving restaurants, hotels, bars and parking garages can report these business establishments for any violations.
If the business is fined the bounty hunter can receive up to 25 percent of those fines, which can be as much as $2,500 per day. A new bill in the California Assembly may, however, add a grace period, allowing businesses to rectify violations within 14 days of them being reported.
Step 1: Prepare to Meet California State Requirements
In California, only police and other POST-certified law enforcement officers have the authority to place fugitives under arrest with the following exceptions made for the bail bonds industry:
- Bail (licensed by the California Department of Insurance or licensed in another state)
- Depositor of bail (a person who deposited a bond required for an arrestees release)
- Private investigator (must be licensed as a PI in California or another state and have authorization from the bail bondsman or depositor of bail)
- Bounty hunter, referred to in California as a bail fugitive recovery agent (a person with written authorization from either a bail bondsman or depositor of bail, or otherwise employed by a bail bondsman to track down a bail fugitive)
California has a rigorous set of standards used to regulate the bail bonds industry under the California Department of Insurance. However, as a California bounty hunter you are not required to be licensed if your only duty is to pursue, locate and apprehend bail fugitives. Still, you’ll be required to successfully complete two separate courses in order to qualify for the authority to apprehend.
In order to become a bounty hunter in California, you’ll need to meet the following base requirements:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Be a California resident
- Have no felony convictions
- Complete the 40-hour Police Officer Standard Training (Post) power of arrest course
- Complete the 20-hour Department of Insurance approved pre-licensing bail education class
Step 2: Consider Higher Education
You are encouraged to obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in one of the following areas prior to pursuing recognition as a fugitive recovery agent in California:
- Police science
- Criminal justice
- Psychology degree program provide excellent preparation for the two required courses described below, which evaluate knowledge of bounty hunter responsibilities, restrictions and procedures in line with California statutes, but most successful bounty hunters utilize the critical thinking skills learned in college to effectively investigate and track fugitives.
A degree program provides excellent preparation for the two required courses described below, which evaluate knowledge of bounty hunter responsibilities, restrictions and procedural protocols in line with California statutes. Some of the most successful bounty hunters utilize the critical thinking skills learned in college to effectively investigate and track fugitives.
Many prospective bounty hunters also attend a bail enforcement training program or academy where they can learn from veterans who have served in the field. The knowledge and skills you can acquire from these seasoned instructors can make a significant difference in your chances of success in this very challenging profession.
Step 3: Take the Required Courses
In order to be legally recognized as a bail fugitive recovery agent in California, you will need to complete the following courses:
- 40-hour power of arrest course certified by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training – This course serves to provide you with procedural education on how to take fugitives into custody, but by itself does not grant the authority to arrest fugitives.
- 20-hour (minimum) Department of Insurance approved pre-licensing bail education class
As stated in the 2013 Bail Fugitive Recovery Persons Act, as a bail fugitive recovery agent in California, you must keep certificates proving the completion of these courses on your person at all times when performing your job duties. These certificates along with written authorization from the bail or depositor of bail give you the authority to apprehend bail fugitives and take them into custody for transport to the bail bondsman. To be considered legal, your written authorization will need to include:
- Your name (including any aliases)
- The address of your primary office or place of business
- Name and address of the bail bondsman, bail agency or surety company granting you authorization to apprehend a fugitive
Step 4: Pursue Employment with California’s Bail Bonds Companies
California is home to dozens of bail bonds companies where you may be able to find employment. These companies have a significant presence throughout California:
- California Bail Bonds (Fairfield, Napa)
- Aladdin Bail Bonds (San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Jose, San Francisco)
- Liberty Bail Bonds (Bakersfield, San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Salinas)
- Acme Bail Bonds (Greater Los Angeles Area)
As a bounty hunter in California you must take care to never misrepresent yourself as a local, state or federal law enforcement professional with any clothing, badge or moniker that in anyway implies or suggests a greater level of authority than what is granted to you as a fugitive recovery agent.
Before pursuing any fugitive with the intent of taking them into custody, you are required to inform local law enforcement (police or sheriff’s department) of your plans.