Bounty Hunting in Florida

Become a Florida Bounty Hunter

In the state of Florida, it is against the law to refer to yourself as a bounty hunter. In Florida, skipped fugitives are apprehended by limited surety agents or professional bail bondsmen. Bounty hunting refers back to a time where it meant the apprehension or killing of a person. Today, the term bounty hunter is simply referred to some one who is rewarded for apprehending a bail jumper. However, aside from this quirk, the laws regarding bail enforcement in Florida are not unnecessarily strict. The state has a very high crime rate, which provides bounty hunters with all the work they have time to handle, even in the beginning stages of the career.

A BEA or Fugitive Recovery Agent is an individual who works for a bail bond company to capture a fugitive who has failed to appear in court. The Bail Bond Company typically pays 10% of the total bond amount for capture. When working as a bail enforcement agent or bounty hunter, you may have others apprehend the subject for you. You and your team will work together to secure the defendant.

Is a Bail Enforcement Officer the same as a Bounty Hunter?

It can be, depending on what context you use the word Bounty Hunter in…  On this web site, we refer to Bounty Hunters NOT JUST AS BAIL OFFICERS, but one who helps assist in the capture of fugitives wanted by local, state & federal authorities where BOUNTIES/REWARDS are given to those who provide tips leading to the capture of fugitives.

In 1872 a U.S. Supreme Court Case “Taylor vs Taintor” gave bail agents nearly limitless authority in their duties while recovering a fugitive. Unlike a police officer, a bail enforcement agent can enter private property without a permit, but limited to recovering fugitives who have “skipped bail”.

What is skip tracing?

Skip Tracing is the electronic means of tracking down a suspect. Skip Tracing is a skill that can be learned not only by detectives, by anyone who must find someone who has gone missing.  With the advent of the Internet, skip tracing techniques have become highly sophisticated. There are many avenues and leads that can be checked using computers. As well as the previously mentioned routes, these include social security number checking, voter registration searches, neighborhood inquiry searches, traffic ticket and marriage record checking. As more personal information is held on databases, skip tracing has become less time consuming with a higher chance of success.

Education and Training in Florida

If you want to become a Florida bounty hunter, the first step is to call the Florida Department of Financial Services to see if you meet qualification requirements to become a licensed bail bondsman. Candidates who qualify must then complete all required training to prepare for the rigors of the job and to become knowledgeable about the state laws and regulations governing fugitive recovery. Once training is complete, candidates must get a Limited Surety Agent Temporary License. This requires submitting fingerprints, passing a criminal background check, and paying application and licensing fees.

The best way to become a Bail Enforcement Agent is to find someone who is knowledgeable in the industry and offer your services to them for FREE “temporarily”. Preferably a firm who offers Bail Enforcement services. Working for a bail bond company or a firm who offers fugitive recovery services allow you to gain the experience needed to successfully earn rewards in the industry. You can then apply skip tracing techniques & use your newfound skills to track down fugitives that have large rewards on their heads which can be $50k.

Full details on this step of the process are available from the Agents and Agent Licensing Department. Bounty hunters working on a temporary license are then required to complete a one-year internship working alongside a licensed, experienced bail bondsman. This internship must include working at least 30 hours a week for a year. After the internship is completed, the candidate must pass a final examination at a Promissory Testing Center.

What other names are used to refer to Bounty Hunters?

BEA’s, Bail Enforcement Agents, Fugitive Recovery Agents, Bail Agent, Bail Enforcement Agent, Bail Officer, Fugitive Recovery Agent, Fugitive Recovery Officer, or Bail Fugitive Recovery Specialist

Florida Licensing Requirements

As stated earlier, there are certain requirements that must be met before one can become a surety agent in Florida. At minimum, candidates must be at least 18 years of age and be citizens or legal aliens of the United States who reside in Florida. In addition, candidates must submit to a credit evaluation and thorough background check. To apply for a license, applicants must submit a written application that includes professional and personal history along with three letters of recommendation from reputable citizens of the state who are not family members. Before completing the process, applicants must submit fingerprints and photo identification, provide a verifiable state business address, and pay all administrative fees. Licensed surety agents in Florida must complete at least 14 hours of continuing education every two years.

Weapons Laws

In Florida, limited surety agent or bail bond agent licenses do not authorize individuals to carry a weapon. While the state statues do not specifically state regulations for bail bond agents using weapons on the job, it is a good idea to contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to learn specifics, especially regarding the area in which you are working.

Florida Bond Process

In this state, bounty hunters must be contracted for fugitive apprehension through a licensed bail bond company. Freelance work is not allowed and those pursuing fugitives from other states must be licensed in their state of residence before they are allowed to make an arrest in Florida.

A Bail Bond Company is an institution or firm who has put up the bail amount for an individual to be released from jail. The bail bond company acts as a jailor, and the responsibility of bringing the fugitive back to court lies solely with them. Bail Bond Companies make money by charging a fee of 10-20% of the posted bail amount. If the defendant fails to show for court, a bounty hunter “Bail Enforcement Agent steps in to recapture the fugitive.

Although it seems that Florida takes a hard stand regarding bounty hunting, they simply want to do away with vigilante efforts and avoid the negative connotations associated with bounty hunters. While the laws and regulations of the state are a bit strict, this is one of the prime markets for individuals wishing to enter this field.