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Can a Felon Get a Surety Bond?

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Getting a job with a felony, while not easy, is not impossible. Felons may think no one will hire them after serving their sentence, but there are resources available. Many times it takes learning a new trade or starting a different career.

This blog post will cover whether or not a felon can get a surety bond.

  • What is Bonding?
  • What is a Surety Bond?
  • How to Get a Surety Bond
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Recommended Action


What is Bonding?

A bond is a type of insurance taken out by a business or employer to safeguard against certain kinds of losses. There are various bonds depending on the circumstances of the company, typically a risk management, a surety, or a fidelity bond.

A risk management bond protects an employer against loss of finances from employees that have access to cash, checks, and securities. This bond provides financial resources for a business in the event of a loss.

The main difference between a surety and a fidelity bond is that surety bonds are required by a third party (usually the government) to protect itself or the public, and fidelity bonds are insurance for the employer or business that protect a business from employee theft.

A fidelity bond insures the loyalty between the employer and employee. This bond will pay for any dishonesty on the part of employees. Bonding is often established for employees in sensitive positions handling cash or valuables, or when working in others’ homes.

What is a Surety Bond?

A surety bond is required insurance when dealing with the government or other similar regulatory agency. There are a number of instances when a surety bond is required. Some industries request a surety bond for licensing as a safeguard that the applicant follows the rules and regulations.

A surety bond ensures that the insured has the necessary skills and guarantees success. All construction projects for the government, both state and federal, require a surety bond from a contractor before being allowed to begin the project.

The construction industry makes up the majority of the surety bonds, as contract bonds are approximately two-thirds of total surety bonds. Commercial bonds prevent service professionals and businesses from taking advantage of consumers. Most commercial bonds are required as a part of a state’s licensing process.

There are some industries that need a surety bond, but the most typical requirement is on federal construction projects due to the Miller Act of 1948. It requires surety bonds on any construction, rebuilding, or renovation projects in excess of $150,000 on federal buildings or public works projects.

Many states have their own laws that require surety bonds on contracts. The reason that surety bonds are necessary on these projects is to protect the interests of the public and taxpayers. Because of high failure rates of companies and contractors in the construction industry, many private projects also require surety bonds on large construction projects.

Surety bonds are necessary for contractors working on projects as well as subcontractors. That means that those in trades involved with construction like electricians and plumbers may be required to have a surety bond to work on a particular project.

How to Get a Surety Bond

A surety bond can be obtained by application through a commercial insurance company dealing with business-related insurance policies. Each surety company has its own underwritten standards and requirements.

Before a surety bond is issued, the contractor typically undergoes a thorough process, often referred to as prequalification. The surety company will determine if a contractor has:

  • The ability to meet current and future obligations
  • A good reputation
  • Experience meeting the requirements of projects
  • The equipment necessary to perform the work
  • A record of keeping promises, dealing fairly, and performing obligations in a timely manner

Surety bond rates are determined through a contractor’s credit history, experience, and criminal history.

An Opportunity for Felons?

In order for a felon to be eligible to qualify for a surety bond he or she must be able to get a contractor’s license. This is for occupations such as an electrician or plumber that work in the construction industry on projects that would require a surety bond.

While the exact requirements for felons to get an electrician’s or a plumber’s license differ somewhat depending on the state, the regulations typically indicate that felons with certain convictions are not eligible to work as an electrician or a plumber.

These include felons with an offense:

  • Involving fraud or deceptive trade practices
  • Against children or that is sexual in nature
  • Against property like theft or burglary
  • Of homicide, kidnapping, or assault

To be successful in their pursuit of getting a contractor’s license to be eligible for a surety bond, it’s essential for felons to be honest about their background. They are already working with the negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.

There are re-entry programs, such as drug treatment, and educational opportunities for felons who need them. For many felons, having their felony expunged can give them the chance they need to begin with a clean record and succeed in getting a surety bond.

Recommended Action

It’s a significant challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon that wants to get a surety bond. Having his or her record expunged and also documenting any training programs or additional education could make the essential difference in a felon succeeding in getting a surety bond.

Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get a surety bond with a felony? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Can a Felon Get a Surety Bond?”

  1. Yes, tried to get a surety bond through several companies and was constantly denied even though I was honest and upfront about my criminal background. I’ve made millions of dollars for construction companies but can’t make a dime for myself.

  2. Good article. I was looking up some info for my handy-man son-in-law who is a convicted felon. I think he is going to have a hard time getting a surety bond – a shame because he is really making an effort to be a better human being, not to mention the fact that he is very good with his hands.


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