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In South Dakota, bail bondspersons are regulated by the Division of Insurance and are subject to stringent licensing requirements as detailed in these steps:
|Meet Basic Requirements in South Dakota|
|Education and Training in South Dakota|
|Apply for a South Dakota License|
|Take the South Dakota Exam|
|Establish your Business in South Dakota|
A bail bondsman charges a nonrefundable fee to post bail for defendants that cannot afford to post their own. They are then responsible for the full amount of the bail if the defendant does not appear in court. In such cases, the court issues a warrant for the arrest of the defendant, and the bail bondsperson is authorized to arrest the person and return them to law enforcement officials.
There are three types of bail bondsmen in South Dakota. These differ depending on the type of securities that the bondsman pledges and whether or not they are appointed by an insurer:
- Professional: cash or approved unregistered bonds
- Property: real or other property
- Surety: bail bonds (Surety bondspersons have been appointed by an insurer by power of attorney)
Step 1. Meet the Requirements to Obtain a South Dakota License
You must meet the following requirements to become a bondsman in South Dakota:
- Have lived in South Dakota for a year
- Have U.S. citizenship
- Have reached 21 years of age
- Plan to actively engage in the business of bail bonds
- Must not have pled guilty to or have been convicted of the following
- Crime of moral turpitude
If you have had a felony conviction that was over three years ago, you may be able to get this requirement waived by the Director of the Division of Insurance.
Step 2. Complete Education and Training in South Dakota
To become a bail bondsman, you will be expected to know the state’s legal code and to have an understanding of the insurance business. You would also be well advised to have training in business management, since you will be operating a financial business.
Since you will be closely involved with the legal system, formal training in criminal justice provides a good background to become a bail bondsperson. There are a number of online schools that offer training in this area. Opportunities range from getting a certification to getting a graduate degree in this field. Many people start their careers in criminal justice with an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree.
Step 3. Obtain an Insurance Company Sponsor (Surety Bondspersons)
As licensed insurance producers, surety bondspersons must be associated with an established insurance firm authorized to solicit customers in South Dakota.
You must be prepared to submit your application through a sponsoring insurance company. Insurance companies that provide this type of insurance include:
- Accredited Surety & Casualty Co.
- Allegheny Casualty Company/International Fidelity Insurance Company Associated Bond
- Bankers Insurance Co.
- Empire Bonding and Insurance Company
- Fairmont Specialty
- Financial Casualty & Surety, Inc.
- Lexington National Insurance Corp.
- Palmetto Surety Corporation
- Roche Surety & Casualty Co, Inc.
- Sun Surety Insurance Company
Step 4. Submit Your South Dakota Application for Licensure
You will need to submit an application for approval by the Director of Insurance in South Dakota before you can proceed with steps like taking the required exam. There is a $30 fee for submitting the application. You will also need to provide:
- A set if your fingerprints prepared by a law enforcement official
- A print of a current full face photograph
- Authorization and release form for a background check
- $24.00 check or money order to the SD Division of Criminal Investigation
- Financial documents depending on whether you will be a
- Surety Bondsperson:
- Insurance coverage
- Surety Bondsperson:
- Professional Bondsperson:
- Detailed financial statement under oath
- $10,000 minimum deposit in a custodial account at a qualified financial institution
- Property Bondsperson:
- Proof of having property to pledge
Step 5. Take the Required South Dakota Examination
Once the Director has found you qualified to become a bail bondsman, you will have to take a written exam that costs $10. You should study for this ahead of time. The state provides a preparation guide with suggested topics. Some of them include:
- Principles of bail bonds
- The South Dakota statutes for bail bondsmen (Title 58, Chapter 22)
- Bail bond practices
- A bond manual from the insurer
- A bail bond policy
- Legal terms
Step 6. Set up Your Business in South Dakota
Once you have passed your exam with at least a score of 70% and received your license from the Director, you will be ready to set up your business. You should be prepared to update the Division of Insurance if you move and change your address.
Surety Bondspersons: If you are a surety bondsperson, you will need to be registered with the sheriff’s office in each county that you will be doing business in. To do this, you must be currently licensed with the Director of Insurance. You will have to provide:
- A certificate that you have sufficiency of bail
- A certified copy of your appointment by power of attorney from each insurer that you are representing
This will have to be renewed each year on October 1 or you will be guilty of a Class I misdemeanor.
Professional Bondspersons: Professional bondspersons must file a sworn statement each year on or before March 1 that lists:
- Every bond forfeiture
- The date of forfeiture
- Name of the court where the forfeiture was recorded or made
- The amount of forfeiture
- Date of payment
You may want to consider hiring bounty agents—known as runners in South Dakota. If you employ runners to help your capture fugitives, you will be responsible for their applications. You will have to provide a written appointment for each runner before they take their exams. Also, you will have to provide the Director of Insurance with a list of your runners on or before May 1 of each year along with a $10 fee for their reappointment.
Another step you might want to take is to join the Professional Bail Agents of the United States. It is the professional association that represents bail bondspersons throughout the U.S.
You will need to renew your license every year to be able to keep working as a bail bondsman in South Dakota.