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This is a list of 10 things you need to know about bail, bail bondsmen and bounty hunters


Charley Brindley


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If you find yourself in trouble in Las Vegas, make sure you find a reputable Las Vegas bail bondsman.

What it Takes to Be a Bail Bondsman

By Taylor Barton 24/7 Bail Bonds

From 1958 until 1961, when Steve McQueen was the star of Wanted Dead or Alive regulatory agencies reported an uptick in the number of new bounty hunter applications. The modern version is Dog The Bounty Hunter.

Along with the rising profile of bounty hunting comes a close cousin, the bail bondsmen. Although neither are as glamorous in real life as they appear on the screen, both showed that crime pays — just not for the bad guy.

If a person is tired of rotating tires down at "Louie's Tire and Lube," or they want to mix a little cash with adventure, what do they do? Many turn to bail bonds and bounty hunters for a career.

Here's a brief, but complete, primer for anyone who has been itching to make crime pay.

What is Bail Bond

A bail bond is a surety bond which secures the release of an individual from jail.

Currently, there are two types:

1. Criminal. A criminal bail is used in criminal cases. It guarantees a defendant appears for their court date and guarantees payment for fines or penalties decided against the arrestee.

2. Civil. A civil bail is used in civil cases and guarantees the payment of the debt, plus interest and associated costs levied against the defendant.

Anyone a person is detained it is because they are accused of a crime. They are processed into jail and held while they wait for their day in court.

Bail is a financial arrangement which allows the release of detainees pending their trial.

How Do I Get a Bail Bond

Contact a bail bond agency. The court will determine the total collateral which needs to be placed to be released. The collateral may be a bond, assets, cash or some combination.

The agency will bond, or ‘post,' the court's required amount and the detainees are released.

The bonding agent is responsible for ensuring the individual comes to court for trial. If the arrestee doesn't appear, the agency may have a bounty hunter track the person down. A bounty hunter is also referred to as a ‘bail enforcement agent.'

Will I Get My Money Back From a Bail Bondsman

No. When a person is detained, they go to the courthouse for a bail hearing. A judge determines what amount of bail, if any, is appropriate.

If the detainee doesn't have, or can't come up with, the cash to cover bail, they may contract with a bondsman.

The bondsman will charge a percentage, in Nevada, it's 15%, of the bail. That's his payment for risking his assets and getting you released.

In effect, the arrestee is buying an insurance policy guaranteeing the detainee will appear in court, and the cost of the ‘insurance' policy is the percentage charged by the bondsman. Once the bondsman has gotten the arrestee released from jail, the bonds man has completed the task for which he was hired.

What If Someone I Bailed Out Skips Town?

As the signer, or co-signer, of a bail contract, you are taking responsibility for the defendant. It's up to you to make sure the accused appears for each mandated court appearance. When the defendant doesn't appear, it's often a simple cause such as car trouble and situations like this can be solved with a phone call.

There are times when the accused chooses not to go to court. "Missing court" is one thing, but something else when the accused "goes on the run." Your financial liability can be overwhelming.

If the accused refused to go to court, the services of a bounty hunter would be needed and you, as the Indemnitor, will be liable for any expenses this may cause.

In most states, the indemnitor is allowed six months to locate and bring the defendant to court. If the accused is not captured within the six-month window, you will be responsible for paying the full about of bond plus any expenses and unpaid premium.

Is a Bondsman a Loan Shark

No. A bondsman must be professionally licensed and they are not loan sharks or under-the-table businessmen.

How Do I Become a Bounty Hunter

Known professionally as ‘fugitive recovery agents' or ‘bond enforcement agents,' bounty hunters track down individuals who didn't keep their court date. While it can be a dangerous vocation, it can also be lucrative. Bounty hunters can earn between around, on average, $80K annually.

There are four steps to becoming a bounty hunter.

1. Meet the Requirements. In American bounty hunting was established by an 1872 Supreme Court case, Taylor v Tantor. Regulations vary between states. The organization representing bounty hunters is the National Association of Fugitive Recovery Agents and more information can be found from contacting NAFRA or your local law enforcement agency.

2. Background check. In some jurisdictions, anyone can become a bounty hunter. In others, a background check is required. If the applicant isn't a convicted felon, passing a background check should be easy. Thinking about ‘Dog, the Bounty Hunter'? Have you ever noticed how he doesn't apprehend the criminals himself and doesn't carry a gun?

3. Gun permit. Each state is different, so again check with local law enforcement authorities n how to obtain the appropriate permit.

4. Certification. Certain states require licensure. Others require certification. Conduct research before spending money on a ‘school' that prepares individuals for licensure and certification.

How Much Does a Bounty Hunter Make

According to Salary Expert, average income for a bounty hunter, as of 2013, is $79,258 annually.Top earners earned over $112,000 while the average starting salary was just over $60K.

A wide variation exists by area, and since the career is dependent on crime areas, the higher paying jobs can be found in cities such as Detroit, St. Louis, Oakland, Memphis, and Atlanta.

Most bounty hunters are ‘free agents' or contract employees and pick up bonds from numerous agencies in their region. Earning a criminal justice degree can help increase credibility which means higher pay.

How Do I Train to Become a Bounty Hunter

A training course targeted towards persons desiring to become bounty hunters teaches specific skip tracking skills.

Classroom-based instruction allows for training in disarming, patting down and handcuffing subjects.

Field training often includes, as a minimum, breaching doors, forcible entry, tactical takedowns and safe weapons handling.

Depending on individual circumstances, additional training may be needed to learn:

  • Self-defense skills
  • Conducting background investigations,
  • Surveillance tactics,
  • Interview processes
  • Verbal confrontation skills

What If I Put Up My Residence For a Bail Bond

Visit the county estate files service which normally is located in the courthouse or court annex. Register a deed of trust and name the bonding agency as beneficiary. The agreement means the bail company has a lien on the property and may take ownership of the agreement goes into default.

Once the court proceedings are complete, whatever the outcome, the court must exonerate the bail prior to the lien's removal. The arrestee's lawyer should seek the bond's exoneration. Make sure to get a certified copy of the order.

Provide a certified copy of the exonerated bond plus the balance of any interest accrued along with a written request that the lien be released.

Is a Bail Bond Tax Deductible

No. While it is natural to hope that bail money could be deductible it isn't a ‘tax.' Instead, bail money is a fine and a guarantee that the accused will show up for scheduled court dates. Even if the bailiff uses the term ‘bail tax,' it is not deductible.

1. What is a bail bond?

In order to create a financial incentive to return to court voluntarily, courts routinely ask for bail money commensurate with the seriousness of the charges. A person charged with murder, for example, may be given a US$500,000 bail, meaning the person is liable for the total amount if he or she fails to appear in court. Most people cannot afford the total amount of bail, so they or their families must contract with a specialist called a bondsman to arrange for bail bonds.

Bail bonds are surety bonds used to guarantee the entire bail amount if the accused party fails to maintain the terms of his or her release. A bail bondsman generally pays the court a large 'blanket bond' to cover multiple clients, then charges each client 10% of his or her total bail figure as a cash guarantee. These cash bonds are considered bail bonds and are generally non-refundable if obtained through bail bondsmen. The main benefit to the client is not having to spend all of his or her time in an unpleasant cell until the trial date.

Bail bonds can be obtained in most areas of the United States 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Bail bondsmen generally stay available on an 'on call' basis whenever they are away from their offices. The concept of bail bonds for the release of jailed individuals is generally limited to the United States. Many other countries have other methods for creating financial or moral incentives for accused parties to appear in court. Because a number of people intentionally skip town after posting bail bonds, there is also a need for a unique occupation called a bounty hunter. Private individuals can be hired by bail bondsmen to track down and return those clients who fail to appear in court.

Because bail bonds issued by private bail bonding agencies can be non-refundable and excessively expensive, many court systems have created an alternative for accused people and their families. In lieu of the entire bail amount, a 10% cash bond can also be accepted by the court directly. This is the same situation which created the need for bail bondsmen in the first place, but families with the means to generate cash no longer have to go through an intermediary. In essence, bail bondsmen work much like other short-term, high-interest lending institutions. The repayment terms can be brutal.

Several states have already banned the practice of bail bonds, and more may follow in the future. The financial disadvantages to the accused and his or her family seem to outweigh the potential benefits of release until trial. The 10% cash bond option issued by the court is refundable as long as the accused appears in court without incident. Bail bonds issued by private companies may have even more stringent conditions, since the bail bondsman would be held financially responsible for the entire bail amount if clients should fail to appear.

Story credit: Wise Geek

Have further legal questions? Ask a lawyer online today.

2. How do I get a bail bond?

General Bail (Bond) Information

What is bail? Bail or bond (in this case, bail and bond mean the same thing) is an amount of money in cash, property, or surety bond for the purpose of making sure that a person attends all required court appearances. Bond allows an arrested person (defendant) to be released from jail until his or her case is completed.

Who can post bond? Any person can post his or her own bond. If the defendant can’t afford to bond himself or herself out of jail, any other person age 18 or older can post the bond.

If I bond someone out of jail, when will I get my money back? It could take months. If you post a cash bond, you might get some or all of your cash bond back, but it won't be until the case is finished and the necessary paperwork has been processed. The law lets the Court use the cash bond to pay any fine or costs which might be assessed the defendant. If you post a surety bond, you will not get the surety bondsman’s fee or the Sheriff’s fee back.

Cash Bonds

What is a cash bond? A cash bond is the full amount of the bond required, paid in cash, to release a defendant from jail.

How much does a cash bond cost? A cash bond costs the full amount of the bond AND a nonrefundable $10 Sheriff's fee if the bond is posted after regular office hours with the jail. Example: A $500 cash bond would cost a total of $510 ($500 plus $10).

How do I post a cash bond? For instructions on how to post a cash bond, call your local Sheriff’s Office. Note: You do not need to pay a bail bond agent to post a cash bond because you or another person can post a cash bond.

Can I change my mind after I post a cash bond for someone? You may have the defendant turn himself or herself in to jail any time before the defendant misses a court date. If the defendant is returned to the jail, you will need to file the required paperwork with the court. It will take about two weeks for the money to be mailed to you.

If I post a cash bond, will I get my money back? Maybe. If the defendant attends all court appearances and either pleads guilty or is found guilty, by Idaho law, I.C. 19-2923, a cash bond can be used to pay fines and costs:

...when the money has been deposited, if it remains on deposit at the time of the judgment for the payment of a fine, the clerk must, under the direction of the court, apply the money in satisfaction thereof, and after satisfying the fine and costs, must refund the surplus, if any, to the party posting the deposit.

If you are using your money to post a cash bond for the defendant, please tell the clerk or jailer your name and address. If you are using the defendant’s own money to post the cash bond, tell the clerk or jailer that the bond money should be receipted in the defendant’s name. The bond receipt should be made for the person whose money is being used for the cash bond. If there is any money left, it will be returned to the person whose name is on the bond receipt. If the defendant attends all court appearances and the charges are dismissed or dropped, the person whose name is on the cash bond receipt will receive the refund of the cash bond. It takes about two weeks for the refund to be mailed to the person who posted the cash bond.

What happens if the defendant misses court? The judge will issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest and the bond will be forfeited (defaulted). If you post a cash bond for the defendant, there are only two ways you can get your money back: 1) You must find the defendant and turn him or her back to the jail within 90 days of the bench warrant; 2) If the defendant is arrested and put back in jail within 90 days of the warrant, you can request your cash bond back.

Fill out the required paperwork and give it to the Court. The judge will review it and if approved, the cash bond will be mailed back to you. If the defendant isn’t found or arrested within 90 days, the Court will keep all of your cash bond.

Surety Bonds

What is a bail bondsman? Bondsman, bondsperson, bail agent, and bond agent are all names used for a person who is licensed by the State Department of Insurance to sell surety bonds and is authorized to conduct business in the State of Idaho. He or she is an agent for an insurance company that sells surety bonds.

What is a surety bond? A surety bond is an agreement made between a person and a bondsman. The bondsman agrees to post the necessary bond so the defendant can be released from jail.

This agreement is backed by an insurance company contract signed by the person and the bondsman on behalf of the insurance company. There has to be enough cash or collateral to cover the full amount of the bond in case the defendant misses his or her court date. Only a person who has been licensed by the State Department of Insurance may post a surety bond.

Why would I hire a bondsman? If you don't have the cash to cover the full bond amount and the Sheriff's fee, you may wish to hire a bondsman to bond yourself or someone else out of jail.

Also, as mentioned above, sometimes the Court keeps a cash bond. If you are bonding someone out of jail and you don't want to take the chance that all or part of your cash will be used to pay the defendant's court fines, fees and restitution, you might want to hire a bail bondsman. How much does a surety bond cost? A surety bond will cost you a surety bond fee AND a Sheriff's fee of $10. You will not get any of the surety bondsman’s fee or the $10 back because it is nonrefundable. The surety bondsman’s fee, set by the insurance company, may cost about 10% of the total bond plus $25 or $35 dollars. This fee can be different from company to company and their amounts should be listed with the Idaho Department of Insurance.

Example: a $5000 bail bond could cost a total of $545 ($500 surety bondsman’s fee plus $35 and the $10 Sheriff Fee).

How do I post a surety bond? Call any one of the bail bondsmen listed in the yellow pages of the phone book. The defendant and a cosigner will be required to sign the bond agent's contract.

If I'm a consignor, what will I have to do? If the defendant misses a court date, you may be expected to help the bondsman find the defendant, to pay the bondsman’s expenses for finding the defendant, and to pay the full amount of the bond if the defendant cannot be found.

If I go through a bond agent to post a surety bond, will I get my money and collateral back? You will not get the surety bond fee or the Sheriff’s fee back. Whether you get the rest of your money or your collateral back depends on what you and your bondsman agreed to in the contract. Every contract is different.


Story credit: Third Judicial District

3. Will I get my money back from a bail bondsman?

When the bailbond has served its purpose, the surety will be exonerated (i.e., released from the obligation). Exoneration normally occurs when the proceeding is terminated in some way or on the return of the defendant to custody. After conviction, the defendant appears for sentence. If sentenced to imprisonment the defendant is committed to the custody of the sheriff, and the liability of the surety terminates. You will not receive any money back that you have paid a bail bondsman.

Story credit:

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4. What if the person I bailed out of jail, skips town?

The surety or depositor may arrest the defendant, or authorize a bail enforcement agent or private investigator to do so for the purpose of surrendering him into custody to ensure his future appearance. This extraordinary power of the bail bondsman is of ancient origin. When bail is given, the principal is regarded as delivered to the custody of his sureties. The following may be authorized to arrest a bail fugitive: A certified law enforcement officer. A person licensed by the State to do so (i.e., holding a bail license in another state and authorized in writing by the bail or depositor to make the arrest). A person contracted and authorized in writing by the bail or depositor to do so, Bail Recovery Agent, A private Investigator. Persons doing the foregoing have been called bounty hunters, yet the term does not fit the facts of today`s world, they are acting under contract.

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5. Is a bondsman a loan shark?


For example, in order to become a bailbondsman in Ohio;

Step 1

Take the pre-licensing education course. Visit the Ohio Department of Insurance website for a listing of the approved pre-license provider list. Ohio also has a self-study pre-license provider list for those individuals who just can't seem to make it to class and would prefer to study on their own. Applicants receive a course completion certificate upon successful completion of the pre-licensing course.

Step 2

Make a reservation to take the exam. You can make a reservation by phone, mail, fax or on-line through Once you make your reservation, keep track of your confirmation number, as you will need it in order to take the exam.

Step 3

Take the exam. In order to take the exam to become a bail bondsman in the state of Ohio, you must have two acceptable forms of identification, the original pre-licensing certificate evidencing that you successfully completed the required pre-licensing course and reservation confirmation number. It is recommended that you get to the exam testing center at least 30 minutes early.

Step 4

Get your fingerprints. Once you successfully pass the bail bondsman exam, you can elect to have your fingerprints taken for the background check. It is not a mandatory requirement to have the fingerprints taken at the testing center. However, if you do elect to have it done at the center, you must use either a credit or debit card.

Step 5

Complete an electric background check. The Ohio Department of Insurance requires that bail bondsman candidates have a criminal background check performed by WebCheck. Only WebCheck or another authorized facility can submit the results of your background check to the Department of Insurance.

Step 6

Submit a completed Surety Bail Bond application along with the appropriate fee and supporting documentation and wait for approval.

Step 7

Get your photo Surety Bail Bond Card. Upon license approval; contact Pearson Vue to get your photo ID card.

Story credit: eHow

6. How do I become a bounty hunter (surety recovery agent)

To become a bounty hunter, you must first learn about any state or federal laws that apply to the job. In some states, no licensing is needed, and you only need to be hired by a bail bondsman to work as a bounty hunter. In other states, performing the work of a bounty hunter without being specially licensed is a felony. In California, for example, bounty hunters must undergo a special training program, and be properly licensed for the job.

After receiving the proper licensing, it is time to begin marketing yourself to bondsmen. This may mean sending letters and résumés, phone calls, and visiting offices in person. Be ready to explain why you would be an asset to their company. In order to become a bounty hunter, you need to convince someone to hire you. Any applicable training you may have received may help you to get into this job.

Upon the completion of your first job, be certain to follow through. Complete any paperwork that may be necessary, and thank the bail bondsman for the opportunity to work for him. Building a reputation for being dependable and personable will help you to gain work later on. Some bounty hunters work specifically for one bondsman, while others will receive work from multiple sources, depending on who is offering the best pay at the time. If you plan to work for various bondsmen, be prepared to market yourself to each one, building on your previous success as a bounty hunter.

The term bounty hunter is popular in television, movies, and books. However, to a professional in this career, it is often viewed as a derogatory expression. “Bounty hunter” makes people think of the men who were hired to apprehend criminals, dead or alive, for a reward back in early days of American history. The preferred job title is bail enforcement agent. In order to become a bounty hunter, and be taken seriously by other professional, it is important to know this distinction between the terms.

To become a bounty hunter, you must be strong, agile, and intelligent. You must be able to use surveillance and tracking knowledge to be able to find and apprehend fugitives. Before trying to be hired as a bounty hunter, it is advisable to take self-defense courses. It is a physically and mentally demanding job. You must also be able to work well with others, as you will need a backup team to help you apprehend fugitives.

Those who want to become a bounty hunter are in the position of being able to help society, by getting fugitives off the street, without getting stuck in a boring desk job. Bounty hunters live exciting lives. Because of the exhilaration and danger associated with this career choice, it is perfect for adrenaline junkies and those who don't want to spend their lives behind a desk.

Story credit: Wise Geek

7. How much does a bounty hunter make?

Bounty hunters get a share of the bail bond money - usually 10 to 20% of the total agreed amount.

A recent survey indicated that most bounty hunters make anywhere from $50,000 to $80,000 each year depending on the state. The average bounty hunter handles 100 to 150 cases a year.

The term "bounty hunter" oftentimes conjures up images of the Wild West, where outlaws would be identified by wanted posters all around town and it was often up to someone who did not work in law enforcement to track down the fugitive. Modern bounty hunters though are trained and licensed individuals who work closely with the American justice system to make sure that criminals show up to court.

Whenever someone is arrested, bail will be set at a specific amount. Unless this amount of money is paid, the arrested person must remain in police custody until the court date. Higher bail amounts are placed in cases where a person is involved in a more serious crime. Additionally, a judge can determine that no bail amount will be offered on certain crimes, such as capital murder.

A bail bond can be acquired by the defendant's friends or family which allows the defendant to pay the bail bondsman less than what he would have to pay the court. In return, the bail bondsman assures the court that the defendant will show up to court each and every time the court mandates it. If the defendant skips out on a court date, the bail bondsman is responsible for finding the defendant or losing all of his money.

This is when the bounty hunter comes into play. Bail bondsmen often hire professional bounty hunters, also known as bail enforcement agents, to track down these defendants who haven't shown up to court. If the person is eventually caught and arrested, then the bounty hunter is entitled to a share of the bail bond money that is usually 10 to 20 percent of the total agreed amount. If the defendant isn't caught, the bounty hunter typically makes no money and will move on to the next case.

A recent survey indicated that most bounty hunters make anywhere from $50,000 to $80,000 each year depending on the state. The average bounty hunter handles 100 to 150 cases a year.

Different states and different countries require various levels of certification to become a professional bounty hunter. To be licensed, a bounty hunter usually has to learn all the basic rights and regulations of the local law system. They oftentimes also have to undergo a background check and pass a standardized test.

Although bounty hunters are rarely a part of the official legal system, they are generally very good at what they do. According to the National Association of Bail Enforcement Agents, almost 90 percent of bail jumpers in the United States are caught by bounty hunters.

Story credit: Askville at

Check out America's most famous bail enforcement officer.

A&E's Dog the Bounty Hunter is available on Direct TV and most other cable providers.

Check your local listings for air times in you area.

8. How do I train to become a bounty hunter?

The popularity of the A&E reality television show "Dog the Bounty Hunter," starring Duane Chapman and his family, has helped increase the interest in bail enforcement careers. The Chapmans pursue wanted fugitives mainly in the American states of Hawaii and Colorado. Worldwide, bounty hunting is legally allowed only in the United States and the Philippines. If you’re interested in a bail enforcement career and are searching for bounty hunter training, you should be aware that not all American states permit bounty hunting.

Although bounty hunting is legal throughout the majority of the United States, some areas have restrictions. These restrictions can certainly limit bounty hunting training options. For instance, to be a bounty hunter in Texas, you must first become either a licensed private investigator, commissioned security guard or a peace officer. Louisiana bounty hunters must always wear clothing that clearly indicates their profession. Bounty hunter training of any type is unavailable in Illinois, Wisconsin and Oregon because the profession is illegal in those states.

Aspiring Florida bail agents must be licensed only through the Florida Department of Financial Services, the Bureau of Agent and Agency Licensing. Not only that, the term bounty hunter is not legally used in Florida; the allowable terms are: bail agent and limited surety agent. North Carolina and South Carolina also use a state licensed bail agent system.

If you want bounty hunter training in a state where the profession is legal, there are two basic options to consider. The first is to get a formal college or university education to earn a degree in criminal justice or law enforcement. This option often works well for people willing and able to invest in post-secondary education. The second option is to complete a certificate program from a bounty hunter training school that meets the requirements in your state.

For example, the American Institute of Bail and Bail Enforcement offers training certification in bounty hunting. The institute was founded in 1998 by the Police Officers Standard and Training Board in Colorado. The institute offers a choice of entry-level bounty hunter training programs that are completed through home study. This allows aspiring bounty hunters to continue to work or handle other responsibilities during training. After satisfactorily completing the training program and passing a written exam, trainees earn entry-level bounty hunter certification papers.

Story credit: Wise Geek

9. What if I use my house to post a bail bond?

Should the defendant fail to appear, the lien on the real estate can be foreclosed, the real estate sold, and the proceeds applied to the bail amount. This means the person posting bond could lose their house if the defendant fails to appear.

Story credit: Perrysburg Municipal Court

10. Is a bail bond tax deductible?

No. Bail is not tax-deductible. Bail is actually not like a tax. The only reason that you might think it was like a tax is because it is a payment that is made to the government. However, bail is actually a guarantee that helps to ensure that you will return to court in order to stand trial for a crime that you have been accused of committing.

When you are arrested and put into jail, you are given the option of posting bail. If you post the full amount of the bail on your own (without the help of a bail bonding agency) then you will get a full refund for the amount of the bail bond as long as you turn up in court to stand trial. The only time that you will actually lose money in a bail situation is if you enlist the help of a bail bonding agency.

A bail bondsman will generally require a down payment for the amount of the bail that is about ten percent of the total bail. The bail bonding agency will then provide the additional 90 percent of the bail bond for the court. As such, you are paying the bail bonding agency to pay for your bail. The bail bonding agency will then get a full refund of the amount of money that was required for your bail. However, you will not get any of that money back. To recap, bail is not tax deductible and is not actually a tax.

Story credit: Bail Bond Information Center

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