Many states have set forth guidelines and laws to become a bail enforcement agent. Many of the laws are put into writing due to prior errors or flagrant law violations from agents in the past. As an instructor for bail training in Virginia I have outlined five steps to becoming properly licensed to work in bail enforcement.
Step 1 – Minimum Requirements that Must Be Met
Prospective agents must meet the fundamental qualifications for bounty hunters in Virginia. This means that even prior to applying a person must conduct a checklist on themselves to insure they meet the minimum requirements.
Below is a list of the requirements that have been set forth by the State of Virginia, each of the items in this list must be met:
- Attain the age of 21 or older
- Be a U.S. citizen or legal resident alien
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Complete a basic certification course in bail enforcement training (see below)
- Not be an employee of a local or regional jail
- Not currently the subject of a protective order
- Not be employed by a sheriff’s office
- Not be employed by a state or local police department
- Not be a Commonwealth’s Attorney or an employee of its offices
- Not be an employee of the Department of Corrections
- Not be an employee of the Department of Criminal Justice Services
If you have had a felony conviction at any time in your past, a misdemeanor conviction of any kind in the past five years, or a misdemeanor at any time in your past related to stalking or brandishing a firearm, you may still qualify for licensure as long as you have received a full pardon and have had your civil rights fully restored. If any of these apply you must disclose the details of the conviction and provide documents to support that you have satisfied all court requirements and that your civil rights have been restored when submitting the Criminal History Supplemental Form along with your application (see Step 4.).
In some cases, the stipulation barring you from licensure due to a misdemeanor conviction within the last five years may be waived without a specific pardon provided it was not related to the following:
- Concealed weapon
- Sexual battery
- Assault and battery
- Drug offense
- Discharging a firearm
- Sex offence
If all of the above criteria are met then the prospective agent may move onto the second step of securing a license.
Step 2 – Complete Education and Training Requirements for Virginia Bounty Hunters Training
The State of Virginia mandates that all bounty hunters complete the Bail Enforcement Agent Entry-Level Training Course (44E) before seeking licensure to work in the state. A full directory of DCJS-approved training schools are available online at the Department of Criminal Justice Services website. The course is 40 hours long and consists of training in the following areas:
- Conflicts of interest
- Code of ethics
- Code of Virginia and Regulations
- Basic law
- Federal court system
- State court system
- Bail enforcement
- Fugitive recovery
- Investigative techniques
- Recovery procedures
- Agent survival
- Apprehending a fugitive
- Remanding to custody
- Legal detainment facilities
- Hospital procedures for injuries
- Signing the bail piece, returning to court
- Entering the jail or sally port
Step 3 – Pass the Required Virginia Exams
Upon completion of the Bail Enforcement Agent Entry-Level Training Course, you must pass a comprehensive written examination testing everything that you learned in that course. The test consists of a multiple choice question and answer format that students must complete in a specific time. Each test is administered by the training provider who will remain until the exam is complete or time has expired.
Prospective agent applicants may not proceed with the licensure process until this exam has successfully been passed and recorded by the administrator.
Upon successful passing of the exam, the training center will take your photo, which will be used when your license is issued by the state.
Step 4 – Submit an Application and Required Documentation to Become a Bounty Hunter in Virginia
Once you have successfully passed the classroom training and final exam, students will be ready for the next step in the process which will be the completion of the state application. Applicants will be directed to proceed to the DCJS website to download the application for Bail Enforcement Agent and the Criminal History Supplemental Form. When they are both completed and all line items have been addressed the packet is prepared to be sent.
The full packet that is submitted to the DCJS is as follows:
- Completed Application
- Completed Criminal History Supplemental form
- Completed Fingerprint Application Form
- Completed fingerprint card
- Check or money order in the amount of $200.00 made out to the Treasurer of Virginia for the application
- Check or money order in the amount of $50.00 made out the Treasurer of Virginia for the fingerprint check
If you plan to carry a firearm please be sure to follow the rules and regulations that pertain to training and applications.
Step 5 – Once You’re Licensed to be Bounty Hunter in Virginia
You have completed the necessary education and training and passed the exam, and are now a licensed bail enforcement agent/bounty hunter in Virginia but the work does not stop. Agents must remember that licenses are valid for two years when they must be renewed.
Agents have that two year of active licensure to maintain continuing education courses. In order to have their licenses renewed agents are required to secure eight hours of continuous education courses that are state compliant 44I (Bail Enforcement Agent In-service training).
To become a bounty hunter in Virginia takes time and some commitment, but with perseverance it can be achieved easily. If you choose to join the other agents that are currently licensed to capture wanted bail bond violators, we wish you luck.