The steps to becoming a bounty hunter in Iowa are as follows:
|Verify Eligibility for a License in Iowa|
|Meet Education and Training Requirements in Iowa|
|Take the Iowa Exam and Apply for your License|
|Work Independently or Sign On as an In-House Agent in Iowa|
It takes know-how, patience and time to find someone who has skipped out on their bail. Bail enforcement agents must either invest in good skip-tracing software or pay a skip-tracing company or private detective to locate the missing person. Once a bail jumper appears to be located it is necessary to conduct surveillances to be certain the right person has been located and to determine the best time and place for apprehension. In Iowa it is required that bail enforcement agents notify local law enforcement that an arrest is imminent.
It is noted that Iowa law prohibits bail enforcement agents from physically harming bail jumpers who have the right to sue the bounty hunter and/or bail bonds company. It is also illegal for a bail enforcement agent to enter a third party’s home to make an arrest. The bail enforcement agent is responsible for transporting the fugitive to jail.
It is necessary for a bail enforcement agent to have the legal authority to make an arrest. This can be done by either procuring an authorized copy of the bail bond from the court OR asking the bail bond company to issue a letter authorizing the agent to arrest a bail jumper on their behalf.
Bail enforcement agents in Iowa generally earn between 10 and 20 percent of the bail amount per apprehension, paid by the bail bonds company responsible for initially paying the bail. A bounty hunter in the U.S. handles between 100 and 150 cases/year and earns an average annual income of $50,000 to $80,000. Many bounty hunters use their job as a stepping-stone to a career in law enforcement.
Step 1. Confirm Eligibility for an Iowa Bail Enforcement Agent License
The requirements for being granted an Iowa bail enforcement agent license through the Iowa Department of Public Safety, Division of Administrative Services are as follows:
- U.S. citizen over the age of 18
- Good moral character
- No felony or aggravated misdemeanor convictions
- No history of domestic, drug or alcohol abuse
Step 2. Meet Education and Training Requirements in Iowa
A criminal justice or related degree will offer a significant advantage as you look to prepare for a career in bail enforcement. There are two schools in Iowa that offer an Associate’s or a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
There are also bounty hunter training courses like the state-approved online course offered for a fee by the American Institute of Bail Bond Enforcement in conjunction with the Police Officers Standard and Training Board. Subjects covered include:
- Introduction to Bail Bond Enforcement – How bounty hunters work within the court system
- Principles of Criminal Culpability – Bounty hunter liabilities
- Use of Force – When, where and how force can be used
- Criminal Code – Laws bounty hunters must know to keep them out of jail
- Firearms/Other Weapons – Weapons bounty hunters can carry and use
- Seizure and Entry – Where and for whom apprehension is legal
- Prison Transport and Jail Relations – Proper procedures for transporting arrestees and dealing with jail personnel
A certificate is issued after completing 16 hours of course work and passing a final examination. Certification shows prospective employers that the holder has the education requirements needed to work as a bail enforcement agent.
Step 3. Take the Iowa Exam and Apply for Your License
Download and mail or complete and submit a hardcopy License Application Packet
Submit to background check and fingerprinting ($30.00 fee)
Prove financial stability by submitting $5,000 to the Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS)
Pass written examination given monthly by the DPS at the Wallace State Office Building in Des Moines. Call the Department of Public Safety at 515-725-6230 for schedule.
The last two requirements are waived for in-house agents of bail bond companies. There is a $100 fee for a two-year license.
Step 4. Work Independently or as an In-House Agent in Iowa
Agents can either work independently or as an in-house agent for a bail bonds company. Independent agents face a fairly high investment for things like state-of-the-art skip-tracing technology, surveillance equipment and apprehension tools (handcuffs, pepper spray, bulletproof vest, etc.), Although small bail bond outfits generally hire independent agents, it is difficult for inexperienced agents to get work since failure means the agent doesn’t get paid and the bail bonds company is liable for the full bail amount.
Large bail bond companies have their own agents and this is often the best way to get into the business. There are over a dozen bail bond companies in Iowa, including such large national chains as King Stahlman Bail Bonds and Performance Bond.