Becoming a Bail Bond Agent in Orange County California
How to Become a Bail Bondsman in California
Robert Miller New
If you are wanting to become a bail bonds agent in Orange County California, there are several things you must take into consideration. First, you must realize that being a bail bonds agent means essentially being on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for most of the year. This is not your usual 9-5 occupation, so be sure that you are willing and able to work these hours if you want to become a bail bonds agent.
Second, if you are wanting to become a bail bonds agent, you should enjoy working with people. Three great qualities to have if you plan on becoming a bail bonds agent is to be courageous, confident, and optimistic, as you want to show these qualities to the people who you bail out of jail and to their family members and friends. Additionally, you'll be able to get along better with the various police officers, judges, and lawyers that you will likely be dealing with throughout your bail bonds career.
Realize that while you can make a solid income working as a bail bonds agent, you are liable when a defendant fails to appear for his or her court date and leaves town, so there is also an element of risk financially as well. Also realize that you can be putting your life in dangers at times when you have to find a runaway defendant and bring him or her back to the municipality where he or she is supposed to appear in court for his or her alleged crime(s). Some bail bonds agents have been injured and even killed for attempting to track down runaway defendants.
A bail bonds agent can have a very satisfying career in that he or she can provide defendants who are unable to pay for bail with the necessary money that is needed to release them from jail until their scheduled court appearance.
In order to become a bail bonds agent in the state of California, you need to satisfy some requirements. One requirement is that you must be 18 years or older. Another requirement is that you must provide evidence that you have been a California resident for at least two years. A good way of doing this is to show evidence that you have paid for housing over those two years.
It's important to note that you will be subject to a background check. In order to be eligible to become a bail bonds agent, your background must not have a felony or misdemeanor conviction. It's also important that you can provide professional and personal references that can attest to your moral character and reputation as being of good quality.
You will need to complete twelve hours of pre-license classes that are approved by the Department of Insurance. You will need to find an insurance company that is willing to underwrite you as a bail bonds agent before you can write any bonds. Once you have completed your pre-license classes, you can present your application, other required documents, and the $245.00 required fee to the Department of Insurance.
You will need to pay a $48.00 fee in order to take the Commissioner exam. The exam is made up of 50 questions, of which you must correctly answer 35 of them (70%) in order to pass the exam. If you fail the exam, you can pay the $48.00 fee and retake the exam.
When you have passed the Commissioner exam, you will be fingerprinted. In approximately six weeks, you should receive your certificate, bail agent card, and license number from the Department of Insurance.
To ensure that your bail bonds license remains current, you'll need to file all annual notices and pay all required fees by their due dates. If you miss a payment deadline, your license may no longer be current, which could result in you being unable to provide bail bonds for a period of time and could also cause you to have to pay additional fines or fees in order to get your bail bonds license current again.
In order to have a successful bail bonds business, you should set up your office space near the courthouse in order to gain more referrals. You should hire some capable employees and set up some documentation systems in order to make record keeping easier for your bail bonds business.
To increase the reputation and success of your bail bonds business, you should begin networking with other bail bonds agents and the court clerk as soon as possible. You should always work to build your good reputation as much as possible. You should always try to advertise your bail bonds services as well. This includes via referrals from previous defendants and advertising (website, radio, television, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
Remember, real bail agencies will never solicit business. There have been a number of cases where bail bond agencies have been fined or closed down because having inmates solicit bail bond clients while they are in jail. A firm that contacts family or friends of an inmate while behind bars is most likely not a reputable one and, therefore, should be avoided. This is one practice you should watch out for in your competitors and something to stay away from if offered.
Don’t fall for a cheap bail bonds offers. When you are granted bail through a bondsman, it must agree to pay a percentage of the bail amount to the firm in exchange for being granted bail. Some firms purposely advertise a low percentage, but then increase it with service fees before the papers are signed. In California, rates lower than 8% are illegal and 10% is the typical charge before rebate. This is another practice to avoid in your business.
Being a bail bonds agent is a demanding profession, but it's also a rewarding one, both in terms of earning a nice salary and in providing a needed service in the community when it comes to bailing out defendants who would otherwise be kept in jail due to a lack of financial resources. By knowing what a bail bonds agent does, you can decide whether this is the career you want to pursue or not.