The steps needed to become a bail bond agent in Louisiana are as follows:
|Meet Licensing Qualifications|
|Attend Eight Hours of Pre-Licensing Education|
|Spend Three Months Working for a Licensed Bail Agent|
|Complete and Submit a License Application|
|Complete 12 Hours of Continuing Education Every Two Years|
According to the latest FBI statistics (2011), Louisiana has the highest murder rate and the fifth highest violent crime rate in the U.S. Louisiana is also third highest in property crime, fifth in aggravated assault and second in larceny. As of July, 2012, New Orleans is the city with the nation’s highest murder rate. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Louisiana also has the highest rate of incarceration in the U.S., making it fertile ground for a career as a bail bondsman.
Louisiana has strict legal requirements for becoming a bail bondsman (called bail bond agent in LA). All bail bond agents must possess a license that must be renewed every two years. Licenses are required of every member of a bail bonds agency that is personally involved in soliciting or negotiating bail insurance.
Step 1. Meet Licensing Requirements
Requirements that must be met to qualify for a bail bond agent license are as follows:
- At least 18 years old
- Resident of Louisiana
- Good moral character
- No felony convictions
Step 2. Attend Eight Hours of Pre-Licensing Education
It is required to take eight hours of pre-licensing education approved by the Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Insurance before applying for a bail bond agent’s license. Classes focus on such topics as federal and state bail law, criminal law and courtroom procedures. Additionally, persons who earn an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in subjects that range from business administration to criminal justice have a definite advantage.
Step 3. Spend Three Months Working for a Licensed Bail Agent
Louisiana has recently passed a new law requiring prospective bail bond agents to work for a licensed bail agent for a period of no less than three months (at least 24 hours a week) before becoming eligible to apply for a license.
Step 4. Complete and Submit License Application
An application form issued by the Louisiana Department of Insurance must be completely filled out and submitted, along with a certificate showing completion of eight hours of pre-licensing education and the $75 fee, to Thomson-Prometric, a national testing company headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota. Information about where to send the application can be obtained by calling Prometric’s toll-free number (1-800-871-6457).
Step 5. Pass Examination
The bail bond agent examination is administered by Thomson-Prometric and can be taken at any one of four testing sites located in Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Bossier City or New Orleans. It is necessary to call Prometric (see toll-free number above) to schedule the date, time and place of the examination. A bail bond agent license issued by the LA Department of Insurance will be mailed to all applicants who successfully pass the examination. There is a $50 examination fee.
Step 6. Complete 12 Hours of Continuing Education Every Two Years
Bail bond agent licenses must be renewed every two years. A prerequisite of renewal is the completion of 12 hours of approved bail underwriting education to be completed by January 1 of every odd-numbered year.
Approved continuing education is offered for a fee by private educational companies like Louisiana Educational Services which has offices in both Lafayette and Metairie. They offer a comprehensive one-day, eight-hour class ($315.00) as well as several self-study courses. Courses provided by online schools are also available. In addition, the Louisiana Association of Bail Underwriters offers both pre-licensing and continuing education courses. Their annual meeting, which includes a review of current bail laws, is usually approved for six hours of continuing education.
Bail Bond Agents at Work in Louisiana
The daily activities of bail bond agents in Louisiana are governed by the Department of Insurance whose Commissioner has the authority to investigate any wrongdoings and enforce adherence to regulations through various fines, sanctions and other penalties, including license forfeiture.
Bail bond agents generally write bonds for the release of defendants but hire bail bond recovery agents (bounty hunters) to locate and arrest bail jumpers. However, it is noted that licensed bail bond agents have the authority to pursue and capture fugitives themselves if they wish.
Bail bond agents normally charge defendants 10 percent of the total bail amount. Consequently, their earnings vary greatly depending upon the number of clients as well as the percentage of defendants who fail to appear for their scheduled hearings, in which case the bail agent is responsible for either finding and producing the defendant or paying the bail amount. It is estimated that bail bond agents in the capital city of Baton Rouge earn an average annual wage of $50,000.