Kentucky Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps

With a population of 4.4 million people, the state of Kentucky does not have a commercial bail bond system; per Kentucky Statute 431.510, working as a bail bond agent or bounty hunter is outlawed in the state. The commercial bail bond system was abolished in Kentucky in 1976 and the state created the Pretrial Services Agency, which believes that individuals who are accused of committing a crime are innocent until proven guilty and thereby deserve the right to reasonable bail. This agency was created largely to ensure that people with fewer means to pay commercial bail bond agents receive the same rights and treatment (i.e. freedom from jail) as people with more financial resources. By using pretrial services, defendants pay their bond to the agency and receive all or a portion of it back when the trial is over as long as they show up in court. To deliver these services, the State of Kentucky uses pretrial officers. Below you will find information on how to become a pretrial officer.

Requirements for Prospective Pretrial Officers in Kentucky

Pretrial officers are employed by the Pretrial Services Agency. To apply, you must meet the following basic requirements:

  • Be 21 years of age or older
  • Be a US citizen or resident alien
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Have a high school diploma plus three years of work experience OR
  • Have an associate degree with one year of work experience

Steps to a Career as a Pretrial Officer in Kentucky

A pretrial officer will initially interview a defendant and recommend him or her for bail. The pretrial diversion program offers drug and alcohol treatment, counseling, advice on life skills such as parenting and financial counseling, education programs, and community service opportunities. As a pretrial officer, you will monitor the defendant and ensure that they are receiving program services and that they will show up for their court hearing. Pretrial officers must follow four basic steps in order to work in Kentucky. It is important to understand that a pretrial officer is an officer of the court, not a peace officer.

1. Gain the required education and experience.

The Kentucky Court System requires pretrial officers to have an associate degree if they have less than three years of job-related experience. Criminal justice is a popular area of study for those seeking an associate degree before becoming a pretrial officer of the court. You can apply with a high school diploma, but you will need to have at least three years of job experience. Eligible experience could include experience as a parole officer or in the parole system, counseling or monitoring experience, or general work experience in the criminal justice system.

2. Submit an application.

Once you meet the experience requirement, you can apply to the court. Applications must be submitted online. Pretrial officer applicants will need a copy of a valid state ID and will have to pass a background check and fingerprinting.

3. Interview with the court.

Although not guaranteed, if you meet the required experience and submit an application, you should receive an interview with the court for the pretrial officer position. Prepare for the interview by reading the responsibilities of a pretrial officer and understanding how pretrial services work with the court. Dress appropriately, arrive on time, and be energetic to give the best possible interview.

4. Begin working as a pretrial officer.

After you have successfully completed the interview, you can begin working as a pretrial officer. Pretrial officers work in all of Kentucky’s 120 counties and must be on call at all hours throughout the week. If you meet the minimum requirements and have the work experience, finding work as a pretrial officer shouldn’t be difficult.

Related Careers

Many bounty hunters work in similar professions to supplement their income; pretrial officers may wish to do the same. Some jobs that can be exciting and allow you to work at your own pace include private investigator and process server jobs. Below is a brief summary of each profession and the respective state requirements.

Private Investigator/ Private Detective

Private investigators (PIs) research legal, financial, and personal matters for their client. They often use interview skills and must monitor people to find the information they are looking for. Private investigators in Kentucky must be licensed by the Board of Licensure for Private Investigators. Private investigators in the state must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Be a US citizen or resident alien
  • Complete a criminal background check (including three fingerprint cards)
  • Pay the $34.75 fingerprint fee and $100 sole proprietorship license*

*All fees are current as of April 2016. If you wish to apply as a company or for a branch office license, additional fees will apply.

To apply to become a private investigator in Kentucky, submit an application to the Office of Private Investigator Licensure.

Process Server

A process server works for the court system to file legal papers and serve legal documents to parties involved in a lawsuit. The state of Kentucky does not require process servers to be licensed. To work in the state, process servers must be 18 years of age. Contact your district court for information on how to get started.

Training and Education Options in Kentucky

Pretrial officers and private investigators can benefit from getting a formal education in criminal justice. You should work towards an associate degree in criminal justice or a related field. With a criminal justice degree, you will better understand the legal system, be able to deal with various social problems, and improve your decision-making and critical thinking skills. By having a formal education, you will show potential employers that you take your career seriously and are well-equipped for the job. To get you started, here are some schools in Kentucky that offer associate degrees in criminal justice:

Eastern Kentucky University
521 Lancaster Ave
Richmond, KY 40475

Pikeville College
147 Sycamore St
Pikeville, KY 41501

Sullivan University
3101 Bardstown Rd
Louisville, KY 40205

Western Kentucky University
1906 College Heights Blvd
Bowling Green, KY 42101

Finding Work

Finding work as a pretrial officer is different than finding work as a bounty hunter. Pretrial officers must work with the pretrial agency and are assigned defendants to work with. To ensure that you understand the profession and are doing the best possible job, identify a mentor who has experience working with defendants.

Featured Private Investigator Agencies in Kentucky

If you choose to get experience as a private investigator, see below for some top rated private investigator agencies in Kentucky.

Beacon Investigative Solutions
835 S 7th St
Louisville, KY 40203

Bluegrass Private Investigators
333 W Vine St
Lexington, KY 40507

Brosan Investigations, PLLC
509 Ridgewater Ct
Lexington, KY 40515

Clutter Investigations of Kentucky
505 S 3rd St
Louisville, KY 40202

David Bringer
1327 Lacona Ln
Louisville, KY 40213

Grasso Co. LLC
107 Church St
Lexington, KY 40507

Kentuckiana Detective Agency
3715 Bardstown Rd
Louisville, KY 40218

US Enforcement Solutions
2272 Old Buck Creek
Scottsville, KY 42164

Pretrial Officer Salary and Outlook in Kentucky

In Kentucky, pretrial officers will earn between $25,732 and $33,966 per year.2 While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report on pretrial officers, it does provide data for private investigators, which we use as a proxy. In 2015, 170 private investigators were employed in Kentucky earning an annual average of $49,070.3 It is projected that between 2012 and 2022, jobs for private investigators in Kentucky will increase by 15.8%.4

Additional Resources

The resources listed below should help you in your search to find work as a pretrial officer or private detective in Kentucky.

1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Kentucky: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/KY/PST045219
2. Kentucky Court, Pretrial Officer Job Description: https://kycourts.gov/Court-Programs/Pretrial-Services/Pages/default.aspx
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, Kentucky: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ky.htm
4. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm