Bounty hunting in Florida

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. 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.

Education and Training

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. 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.

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.

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.

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.

Bounty Hunter Salary

So, you’re interested in how much a bounty hunter makes? Unfortunately, due to the nature of the career, the actual salary of a bounty hunter can vary dramatically – and will depend a lot on the bounty hunter’s level of training and time commitment to the craft. In a nutshell, a bounty hunter’s salary can be as low as $5000/year to well over $200,000/year and beyond.

The Math and Logic Behind a Bounty Hunter’s Salary

A full time bounty hunter will usually work directly with a bail bondsman. A bail-bondsmen makes money when they front money to a prisoner that can’t afford to pay their bail fee. For example, if a prisoner’s bail is set at $5000, the bail bondsman can charge a percentage of the $5000. The percentage is a fee (usually around 10 percent) and is non-refundable. This is the bondsman’s fee and is kept in order to allow someone to get out of prison until their appointed court hearing. The $5000 is returned to the prisoner only under the condition which the prisoner shows up for the hearing. Follow so far?

The process is fairly straightforward, except when the prisoner can’t pay up and skips town (jumpers). Jumpers are a nickname given those who don’t show up to their hearing (uh-oh), and still owe the bail bondsman his fee plus his initial investment. In this case, $5000 dollars + $500. This is where a bounty hunter makes his mark on the world, and their salary. The bondsman hires a bounty hunter to track the jumper and recover his property, so to speak. The bail-bondsmen will then pay the bounty hunter for recovery of the property (this number is usually around 10 percent) in order to avoid losing their $5000 investment. Their profit is then zeroed out because the fee they charged to the bounty hunter. It is a win win situation for all parties involved.

Tips to Increase Your Salary as a Bounty Hunter

Location, Location, Location! The location factor is one of the largest of influences on a salary of a bounty hunter. The name of the game is catching people, and the more people in a city means more jobs or jumpers to catch. This also means the bail amount is raised because a person will be harder to track or the local government has more money to expel. More money is allocated to culprits with a higher level of prior convictions. In New York, a bail may be anywhere between $3500 to $25000 or more for a jailbird with a criminal history. If a bail is set at $50,000 and a bounty hunter has to catch the jumper, the bounty hunter will make $5000 assuming he/she is operating at ten percent.

Market Your Brand and Reputation

Bounty hunting is a business just like any other. Making a nice salary includes working hard and building up a clientele. This includes networking and having the most jobs at your disposal. If the bounty hunter in question has a reputation of being fast and accurate then they are more likely to get the best paid jobs from the bail-bondsmen. Marketing one’s abilities will be a big part of this career and it will take dedication to build a reputation which allows for comfortable living.

Being a Bounty Hunter Full Time vs Part Time

Many bounty hunters do not hunt full time. The number of part time bounty hunters is about three times as many who currently work as fugitive recovery agents full time. This is because many bounty hunters have a different primary source of income. The majority of part time bounty hunters are bail-bondsmen themselves. This means instead of working towards getting paid ten percent, they are working towards keeping their investment. It is virtually the same idea and these two careers very much go hand in hand. Some professionals in the business brag about writing $2 million dollars worth of bonds per year. With this number we can assume a bail-bondsmen who works part time as a bounty hunter can bring in a six figure salary.