How to Become a Bounty Hunter in Texas
Every state has different rules and regulations regarding bounty hunting and the commercial bail bond industry, but Texas has some of the strictest and most detailed. It is essential to become familiar with these regulations before embarking on a career in fugitive recovery.
According to a state law passed in 1999, only a licensed private investigator, peace officer or commissioned security guard may legally apprehend a fugitive. Commercial bail bond companies may only contract with such individuals. This means that if you are interested in working as a freelance bounty hunter, Texas is not a good state in which to pursue that. Since 1999, several people have been arrested and charged with felonies and misdemeanors for violating these laws.
Even licensed bounty hunters must follow strict rules regarding the profession. Violating those proscriptions may result in heavy fines, loss of license and imprisonment, so it is important to be very familiar with the subtleties of the laws.
Due to the strict regulations for bounty hunters in Texas, it is strongly recommended that you earn a degree in criminal justice, public administration or sociology. A degree in any of these subjects will give you a broader understanding of the U.S. criminal justice system , and will be a great help towards achieving the licensing required for bounty hunting in Texas.
Every fugitive recovery agent must obtain written consent from the surety, or bail bond company which has contracted you. Without the proper paperwork, when you present a fugitive, you may be arrested or charged with violating Texas law. This is a common law, and many states require such written proof in order to cut down on confusion and ensure you are working legally.
Unlike many other states, licensed bounty hunters in Texas may not enter a private residence without consent. If you intend to apprehend someone known to be hiding in a private residence, it is a good idea to lure the fugitive out of the home to avoid any legal hassles.
Bounty hunters may not mislead the public by wearing any uniform or identification that could imply you are a member of a law enforcement office. This is also a very serious offense under Texas law and must be respected. However, the law does encourage bounty hunters to identify themselves as such, which can also reduce confusion in public and ensure your safety when apprehending a fugitive. You may also have to carry proper state issued identification indicating you are a licensed bounty hunter.
Texas law also requires you to take a defendant to jail or a courthouse immediately upon arrest. Some other states allow for defendants to be brought to the bail bond company first, but Texas requires you to immediately turn the fugitive over to a law enforcement agency in the county or municipality where the original crime was committed.
Becoming a bounty hunter in Texas can occur in 3 ways: becoming a peace officer, being commissioned as a security officer or obtaining your private investigator license. The last requires you to obtain sponsorship from a licensed private investigation company or passing a state administered exam.
Peace officers are conferred by the state after completing the proper education and licensing requirements. You can become a police officer, but it is also possible to be a campus police officer or state lottery official and still work as a bounty hunter. Security guards obtain their licenses by completing 30 hours of professional training approved by the Private Security Bureau of Texas.