Bounty Hunting in California

Become a California Bounty Hunter

In 1999, California passed laws requiring specific training and licensing for bounty hunters in the state. Because of these laws, entering this profession in California can be a bit more involved, but is still highly rewarding. In California, bounty hunters must work closely with law enforcement and must also practice calculated and careful methods in apprehending fugitives.

Education and Training

Before you can become a bounty hunter in the state of California, you must complete 12 hours of pre-licensing bail enforcement education and 40 hours of power of arrest training. Qualified training programs must be approved by the Peace Officer Standards Training Board. Finally, candidates must complete 8 hours of security guard training. The training required for this profession has the added benefit of preparing you for work in a number of other law enforcement careers such as S.W.A.T. officer, sheriff, police officer, private investigator, or corrections officer.

Licensing Requirements

In California, licensing is regulated by the California Department of Insurance.  To become licensed, candidates must be over 18 years of age and must complete all necessary training. Once training is complete, candidates must apply for a bounty hunter license and pass the bail license examination with at least a 70% score. Licensed agents must then complete six hours of continuing education every year to maintain licensure. Information about licensure and training courses is available through the California Bail Agents Association.

Weapons Laws

The laws are unclear in California in regards to bounty hunters carrying weapons while on the job. Many bounty hunters choose to carry weapons when making an arrest, but there is no provision in the law specifically stating that this practice is allowed. If you plan to carry a weapon, it may be wise to opt for nonlethal methods, such as pepper spray to avoid legal problems.

Bond Process

Bounty hunters entering California from another state to apprehend a fugitive must wait for a bench warrant from local judiciary to be awarded after an extradition hearing before moving to make an arrest. In addition, all bounty hunters must notify local law enforcement of a planned apprehension less than six hours before taking action. This involves taking a three-step process that includes indicating the name of the bounty hunter, the time the arrest was authorized, and the name and estimated location of the fugitive. In California, bounty hunters are prohibited from wearing a uniform or portraying themselves as law enforcement officers in any way and must carry documentation at all times that proves authorization as a bail recovery agent. In addition, bounty hunters are not allowed to forcibly enter a private residence except as detailed in the laws regarding arrest by a private person. Any fugitives arrested must be delivered into state of California custody within 48 hours of arrest.

Working as a bounty hunter in the state of California requires following some stricter regulations than are present in many states. In addition, there is heavy competition in this market, so starting a new career can become a bit difficult. To get established, it may be necessary to take on jobs for free or at a reduced rate to establish your reputation. Once you deliver satisfactory results, you will likely earn repeat business.