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Can a Felon Become a Bail Bondsman?

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There are many challenges for felons after their incarceration ends, and they return to society.  One of the biggest is finding a job.  But there are resources available.

They may have to be willing to learn a new trade begin a new profession.

This blog post will address the issue of whether a felon can become a bail bondsman.

  • What is a Bail Bondsman?
  • What Education/Training Does a Bail Bondsman Need?
  • How Much Does a Bail Bondsman Earn?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Bail Bondsman


What is a Bail Bondsman?

A bail bondsman is a person that posts bail on a specific inmate using the bondsman’s personal assets to underwrite the bail.

They work on behalf of someone who cannot afford to post bail.

The bondsman is paid by charging a percentage of the bail posted for an inmate.

A bondsman is usually responsible for finding, arresting, and returning a defendant for a court date.

There are several types of bonds a bondsman can deal with.

The most common is a surety bondsman who is licensed by state governments to provide bonds for defendants.  Their clients may be charged with crimes ranging from driving offenses to murder.

The surety bondsman puts up the entire bail amount and guarantees their client will appear in court on a specified date and time.  The bondman’s fee is typically 10-20% of the bail amount.

Some type of security such as real estate or valuable property or a cosigner is necessary for a bondsman to proceed with the case.

A Federal bail bond is issued when a defendant is charged with a federal crime.  A Federal bondsman guarantees the defendant will appear in court and comply with all pre-trial conditions, which may include drug testing, restricted travel, and business activities.

Very few bondsmen will handle a Federal bond because the defendant may not comply with all court demands.

An immigration bond is another kind of Federal bond required to gain release from an immigration detention facility.  Few bail bondsmen will deal with this type of bond because there is a very high rate of fleeing from the court.

Duties of a Bondsman

A bondsman visits and interviews defendants in jail, gathers information about them, and processes the paperwork.

They share information with police officers, court clerks, and investigators to collect information.

A bondsman assesses a defendant’s qualification for bond and their ability to pay their fee, and makes a decision on bailing them out.

They ensure a client’s appearance in court, and they search for clients who fail to appear.

There are certain skills necessary for a bail bondsman to be successful:

  • Patience when dealing with an individual wanting to get out of jail and believing they shouldn’t have been there in the first place
  • Detail oriented to pay attention to the paperwork necessary for a case
  • Communications and interpersonal skills to deal we have and help others through a difficult legal situation
  • Understanding crime, their description, and possible punishment
  • Ability to handle multiple assignments and to prioritize their work

What Education/Training Does a Bail Bondsman Need?

Educational requirements for a bondsman consist of a high school diploma or a GED.

An applicant must be 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license.

All states except Illinois, Kentucky, and Wisconsin have a certification process to become a bail bondsman.

In order to become a certified bondsman, an applicant typically must complete an apprenticeship under a licensed bondsman and must be continually employed for at least 12 months.  During this time an applicant must complete all tasks of a bondsman.

They must also complete 8-20 hours of classroom education in criminal law or bail bond law.

In order to apply to become a certified bail bondsman, an application must be completed.

The application must include the following information:

  • Name, age, and address
  • Name under which they will conduct business
  • Address of the business location
  • A list of nonexempt real property
  • A sworn financial statement
  • A declaration of compliance with state law
  • Three letters of recommendation from reputable persons
  • Fingerprints, passport photo, and filing fee

In order to become a bail bondsman, an applicant must never have been convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude.

A crime of moral turpitude is one that violates accepted standards of the society or community.

Felonies in this category include:

  • Perjury
  • Tax evasion
  • Wire fraud
  • Carrying a concealed weapon
  • Child abuse

How Much Does a Bail Bondsman Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there are approximately 15,000 bail bondsmen.  This occupation is expected to show a 5% growth by 2024.

The average salary for a bail bondsman in 2015 was $30,000 annually.  The top 10% of bail bondsmen earned over $80,000.

Geographic location, certification, experience, and specialization could have a significant impact on these earnings.  A bail bondsman in large cities especially on the East and West coast tend to earn a higher salary.

An Opportunity for Felons?

In order to be successful in becoming a bail bondsman, it is important for a felon to be honest about their background.  Lying about their conviction will prevent them from becoming a bail bondsman.

It is important to be honest in filling out an application for certification.  A felony found on doing a background check but not disclosed, constitutes fraud and is a punishable crime requiring legal assistance.

This could result in being sent back to prison

They are already working with the often negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling to follow directions from authority figures.

With their felony expunged they can have the chance they need to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming a bail bondsman.

A felon who has had their offense expunged can honestly state on an application that they have not been convicted of a crime.

Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Bail Bondsman

For families of felons wanting to pursue a dream of becoming a bail bondsman, encourage your loved one and support their efforts to live an honest life, change their lifestyle, and keep their dreams alive.

They have made mistakes and been incarcerated, but they have paid the consequences for their past actions.  They are not defined by their crime.

It is time for them to move forward and live an honest life.  Studies have shown that a felon makes a good employee.

Your family member is worth making the effort for, if they are sincere in their desire to become a bail bondsman.

Help them realize their ambition no matter how difficult the road might be.

What do you think about this blog post?  Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a bail bondsman with a felony?  What was that like for them, and how did they achieve success?  Please tell us in the comments below.

10 thoughts on “Can a Felon Become a Bail Bondsman?”

  1. California is the only state that I know of that allows felons to become bail agents your given a probationary lisence for your first year. If interested contact California Bail agent school there courses are mandatory in classroom only

  2. Just to be clear the moral turpitude has to be a felony for you not to qualify. What if it’s a petty thieft/ shoplifting under $30 does that count as a moral turpitude…..Also thanks for the blog very informative

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  6. Thank you for this insightful comment about the basics of bail bonds. I didn’t know that if you had criminal records, you can still push through to become a bondsman and it will your requirements for processing it will depend on where you are. If I were to a law firm that handles immigration bail bonds, I will definitely tune in and listen to an expert like you.

  7. I am an ex first offender felon who only got probation for a scam I was involved in.looking to be a bondsman here in kerrville texas. Can someone please help get a bondsman job

  8. Can you suggest/recommend any bail bondsman agencies that are willing to offer an ex-felon an opportunity as an apprentice and assistance in obtaining the necessary credentials to becoming a bail bondsman


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