If you are a fan of Dog the Bounty Hunter, you’ve probably admired the sharp wits and experience of the world’s most celebrated bounty hunter, Duane “Dog” Chapman, and his crew as they to track down fugitives in the Hawaiian Islands. While many industry pundits believe that the series provides a glamorized view of the career, it still offers a satisfactory glimpse into the bounty hunting world. For a bounty hunter, tracking, ambushing, collecting bounties, apprehending fugitives is all in a day’s work.
Bounty hunters are allowed to use any means necessary to bring the fugitives to jail, including entering their homes without warrants and crossing state lines where necessary, provided they have bail paperwork. Nonetheless, every state has different laws that must be followed as well as the qualifications that a bounty hunter must have. So, how do you become a bounty hunter in Florida? We’ll find out shortly but before then…
What Is A Bounty Hunter?
A bounty hunter is a professional responsible for tracking down fugitives who are running from law enforcement. In most cases, the fugitives have skipped on bails or have failed to appear at their respective court dates. A bounty hunter can arrest such fugitives and return them to jail. In Florida, bounty hunters are often hired by bail bond companies to help them recover bail money that the fugitives might have borrowed to begin with.
Bounty hunters have many other alternative titles, including bail enforcement agents, fugitive recovery agents, skip tracers, bail bond enforcers, and surety recovery agents among others.
Steps to become a bounty hunter in Florida
Here is a quick overview of the mains steps you may take to become a bounty hunter in Florida.
1. Research on the state’s regulation
A bounty hunter must comply with all the regulations in his or her state, including licensing, insurance, specific coursework, etc. In Florida, bounty hunting is controlled by the Division of Insurance agent and Agency Services, which offers three types of licenses, including:
- Temporary Bail Bond Agent License
- Limited Bail Bond Agent License
- Professional Surety Agent License
You have to first hold the temporary bail bond agent license before you can apply for the limited and professional bail bond agent licenses. And both limited and professional bail bond agent license holders may sign bonds, deliver bonds and defendants to jail, manage collateral receipts, and start or operate bail bond agencies.
Besides, limited and professional bail bond agents are required to pass the Florida Insurance Licensing Exam as well as have approval from a reputable agency before sitting for the exam. To pass the exam, you must answer 70% of the questions correctly.
Once you are through with the above steps, you will be offered a temporary bail bond agent license, which is often valid for 18 months. After completing one year or at least 1540 hours of full-time work experience, you can apply for a bail bond agent license. And for your license to be valid, you have to be appointed by a reputable agency otherwise your license will expire after four years.
Finally, bail bond agents in Florida are required to complete about 14 hours of continuing education (CE) during their license renewal period. Continuing education must include 5 hours of law and ethics and 9 hours of elective credits.
2. Gain Experience in the field
Bounty hunting can be a dangerous profession, so it important to be trained on some facets of criminal justice, gain practical experience in law enforcement, and acquire some skills as a security guard or a private investigator. Before you start practicing as a bounty hunter in Florida, therefore, it is advisable to have experience in:
- How to leverage research tools to conduct a proper investigation like a private investigator
- The use of reasonable force
- Arrest and control techniques
- Tracking fugitives
- How the bail industry in your state works
3. Build Relationships with other bail bondsmen
To thrive in the industry, you have to network with as many bail bondsmen as possible to get a constant supply of assignments. In other words, you should know how to run your business and market your services to get work. If possible, join professional associations for networking and education.
Although it seems a lot is needed for you to qualify as a bounty hunter in Florida, the authorities just want to eliminate vigilante efforts and avoid potential negative connotations that are often associated with bounty hunters. All in all, Florida is a prime market for people who wish to enter the field. There are also several career opportunities that you may consider pursuing after getting the bail bond agent license, including being a private investigator, private detective, or process server. In essence, any field that is related to law enforcement can be a good career for a bond agent.