Friends and clients ask all the time … “Can I be a bounty hunter too? If you go out to arrest someone, can I assist?”
The answer is yes (well, maybe), but there’s a process involved to get there.
In North Carolina*, there’s no such thing as a “bounty hunter” – in fact, what the state calls “bounty hunting” is illegal. What we have instead are licensed bail bondsmen who perform the duties of getting people out of jail, and putting them back in if need be. People can be put back in jail for ANY reason. The most common reasons are failing to appear in court, failing to make payments, or moving/disappearing and falling out of touch with the bondsman. There are several laws regarding when and how people may be put back into jail, and what happens to the money they’ve paid; we will cover those laws in a future article.
So how does one become a bail bondsman?
#1 – Be sure you meet the requirements. You must be an NC resident (6+ months) who is at least 21 years old, with a high school diploma or equivalent, and either a valid NC Driver’s License or State ID card. You cannot have any felonies, nor can you have a misdemeanor drug conviction within the past 2 years. You cannot be disqualified due to outstanding bail bond obligations, unpaid child support or tax liens, etc. Generally speaking, you and your spouse cannot be connected to law enforcement or the judicial system in any way (police/probation/attorney/jailer/Court employee).
#2 – Go to school. We have two bail schools in North Carolina – The NC Bail Academy and the North Carolina Bail Agent’s Association. Both offer weekend schools at locations around the state. Be prepared for a very intensive course – there’s a lot to learn! You can expect to pay between $350-$450 for the school, plus your travel/food/lodging costs.
#3 – Apply to NCDOI. Go to the Department of Insurance – Bail Bondsmen site and start the process. The current cost for a bail bonds license is $311. Be warned – it’s a pain in the butt. Follow the instructions exactly. Be sure everything uploads. If you have general questions, your bail school will be able to help. If you’re joining CFBB as a team member, we will guide you through the entire process.
#4 – Who is your supervising bondsman? You need a bondsman who meets NCDOI requirements to be your “supervisor”. This is almost always going to be someone in the company you’ll be joining (don’t know where to work? Give us a call, we may be hiring!) This may or may not be the same person who does your field training, depending on the company. You’ll enter their info on the NCDOI web site.
#5 – Go get fingerprinted. There’s a form to download from the NCDOI application; you’ll take that to your local sheriff’s department. Most charge a small fee ($10-$20) for fingerprinting.
#6 – Wait, wait, wait. Expect your background check and such to take 2-4 weeks.
#7 – Resolve any deficiencies (but don’t panic if you have one). A “deficiency” happens when NCDOI needs paperwork and they don’t have it. You’ll get an email saying what you need to do. For example, when we applied, we sent our American Express statement as proof of residency. This didn’t meet the requirement of a BANK statement per NCDOI rules, so we got an email telling us to use something else.
#8 – If things seem to stall, give them a call. The correct number is 866-265-6329.
#9 – Once you are approved, you will receive a letter giving you permission to test, and the contact info for scheduling. There are test facilities in major cities throughout the state. Be sure to schedule a test date/time that allows you to study first. Some schools actually allow you to repeat your course for free, just before the test. You’ll want to be well-rested and relaxed. The testing is rigorous and there are many rules to avoid cheating.
#10 – Once you pass the test, your license will arrive in about 10 days! Then (and only then) will you be allowed to post bonds and perform other activities allowed by state law.
#11 – Start working! Part of being a bondsman is hustling. You’ve got to make your phone ring.
#12 – Oh wait, we haven’t talked about the bounty hunting part. For the most part, agents don’t do arrests until they’ve got some experience under their belts. If you don’t have previous Law Enforcement or military experience, you’ll need to learn some things first. Talk to your supervising bondsman or company about how to get that experience. Don’t think that you can go charging out there like Dawg and live that sort of life right from the start. Your safety – and your defendant’s safety – are the #1 concern.
*We serve in North Carolina so our articles reference state law and NC Department of Insurance rules and regulations. Please consult your own state law for other states.