The bail bonds industry is, by its very nature, fraught with risk for the bail bondsman. They can, however, try to minimize this risk in several different ways: by conducting background checks themselves and being discerning about who they issue bail bonds for, by ensuring compliance with the conditions of the bond so as to have a higher chance that the defendant will not skip out on their bail, and to get the backing of an insurance company in case the defendant does skip bail and the bail bondsman is made answerable for the entire amount of the defendant’s bail. Can you imagine what would happen if more than one defendant skipped bail? What if majority of the bail bondsman’s clients did the same? That is a lot of bail to answer for.
Bail bondsmen still do have one recourse: hiring the services of a bounty hunter. In the state of California, and conversely, in San Diego, bounty hunters, also known as fugitive recovery agents, are not required to be licensed, as long as their only duty is to pursue, locate and apprehend bail fugitives. But as with bail bondsmen, the state does still require practicing bounty hunters to meet certain requirements before they can work with the authority of a bounty hunter.
Again, anyone aspiring to become a bounty hunter must be at least 18 years of age, a resident of California, and citizen of the United States, and must have a clean record. In addition, they must also have been able to complete the required courses or trainings, including:
- 40-hour police officer standard Training power of arrest course
- 20-hour pre-licensing bail education class
And because bounty hunters, also known as bail fugitive recovery agents, or bail fugitive investigators, also have the authority to apprehend and to take a fugitive into custody – something that generally only police officers have the legal authority to perform, certain restrictions also apply to bounty hunters. They are required, for instance, to keep at their persons at all times the certificates that prove they have completed the two required courses cited above. This lends a measure of both legality and legitimacy to the work of bounty hunters, because even though they are technically working for a private entity (the bail bondsman or a bail agency), there is still a certain measure of state interest in the successful completion of their work.
This can be quite a lucrative career for those who have the knack for the work, and many bounty hunters who work in the state of California typically earn more than some of their contemporaries in other states. Those whose records show a high success rate in bring back skips to the jurisdiction of the courts can find themselves with plenty of work for good pay.
The skills required of a bounty hunter are diverse, which is why they are also encouraged to pursue higher education. Their manner and method of locating and capturing fugitives can utilize skills as varied as electronics, research, psychology, surveillance, networking, persuasion, and even sometimes, trickery. A smart bounty hunter can often succeed in their goal of capturing the defendant without having to recourse to any physical force at all.