The steps to becoming a bail bondsman in Tennessee are as follows:
|Meet Basic Tennessee Licensing Requirements|
|Submit your Tennessee Application|
|Complete Education and Training in Tennessee|
|Contact Prospective Employers in Tennessee|
|File your Certificate in Tennessee|
|Provide Semiannual Reports|
Bail bondsmen help make funds available to defendants that cannot afford to make bail on their own. They charge a fee for this service and are then responsible for paying the bail if the defendants skip out on their bail without paying. Bail bondsmen have legal authority to track down such defendants and return them to the authorities. Frequently, they do this by employing bounty hunters.
In Tennessee, a professional bail bondsman is defined as a person, partnership, firm or corporation that is engaged for profit in any of the following practices in criminal proceedings:
- Making bonds
- Furnishing bail
- Entering into undertakings as surety (Guaranteeing the debts in case the defendant skips out on his or her bail)
This definition applies to anyone who works for the bondsman, even without a salary, and is found in Tennessee code 40-11-301.
Step 1. Meet the Requirements to Obtain a Tennessee License
When you submit your license, you will need to attach an affidavit describing your criminal history, if any, according to the Tennessee annotated code 40-11-317. If the authorities find this to be incorrect, they will immediately disqualify you as professional bondsman. You will also need to request a background check from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and be prepared to pay the fees.
Step 2. Submit Your Application for a Tennessee License
Bail bondsmen are regulated under the Department of Commerce and Insurance in Tennessee as individual producers and not as insurance companies. You will have to apply for a license as a limited insurance producer using the application for insurance providers who do not have to take an examination. You will fill out the Uniform Application at the National Insurance Producer Registry. Detailed procedures are available from the state’s website.
Be sure and specify “Limited Line” when you fill out this application. You will have to pay a filing fee of $50.00 and have an address other than a P.O. Box. You will attach the affidavit about your criminal history.
If you have any questions, you can contact the Insurance Division for Agent Licensing at the Department of Commerce and Insurance at 615-741-2693.
Step 3. Complete Education and Training in Tennessee
State law stipulates in code 40-11-404 that you get your training from the Tennessee Association of Bail Agents. They will issue a certificate of compliance that you will need to submit to the counties that you work in. State law prohibits this association from charging more than $240 for this training.
Given the complexity of entering into business as a bail bondsman, you would be advised to obtain additional training. You may want to take some courses in business management to enhance your skills in managing finances. In addition, you may want to consider obtaining some formal education in criminal justice. Obtaining an associate’s or bachelor’s degree should help you to navigate the criminal proceedings that you will be dealing with.
To work as a bail bondsman in Tennessee, the requirements are that you will need to complete eight hours of continuing education each year.
Step 4. Contact Employers in Tennessee
At this point, you should be ready to start work as a bail bondsman. To become the owner of a bonding company, the state of Tennessee requires you to have at least two years of experience working for a professional bonding company. Thus, you will have to start your career working for an existing bail bond company in Tennessee.
There are several such companies that employ a number of bail bondsmen. They include:
- Tennessee Bonding Company
- Memphis Bonding Company, Inc.
- Grumpy’s Bail Bonds
- AAA Bail Bonds
Step 5. File Your Certificate in Tennessee
For each county that you work in, you will have to file a signed certificate with the clerk of the civil or criminal court to show that you have received the training that the state requires. You will have to give the following information for each course attended:
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will provide the results of your background check to the relevant clerk(s).
Step 6. Provide Your Semiannual Reports
Tennessee state code 40-11-303 requires that you file financial reports with the clerk of each county in which you do business. These reports must be filed twice a year and show in detail:
- Real estate values, including the amount of mortgages, taxes, liens, and all other encumbrances
- All personal property, including cash, stocks, and bonds
- Liability as surety on bail, bonds, secured costs and fines
- Including the case or suit of all uncompleted transactions of undertakings that have been filed
- Liabilities on bond or bail forfeitures
- All accounts payable and other debts, liabilities, and obligations
- Name and address of each representative, agent, or employee that is authorized to bind you on bail, bonds, and other undertakings of suretyship
- Name and address of each person who has an interest in your business
You should be prepared to provide these reports by January 15 and July 15 of every year for the period of the preceding December 31 and June 30.
Along with the first financial report, you will also need to file the certificate that you have obtained your eight hours of continuing education for the year.