Virginia Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps
Bounty hunting is an integral part of Virginia’s private bail system. In Virginia, a state of 8.4 million people, bounty hunters are referred to as bail enforcement agents (although “bounty hunter” is a legal term in the state).1 Bail enforcement agents are licensed by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (the Department). To learn more about the requirements to become a bail enforcement agent in Virginia, continue reading below.
Requirements for Prospective Bail Enforcement Agents in Virginia
As a part of the licensure process, the Department has developed minimum requirements that all bail enforcement agents in Virginia must meet. To become a bail enforcement agent, you must:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Be a US citizen or resident alien
- Possess a high school diploma or GED
Steps to a Career as a Bail Enforcement Agent in Virginia
Beyond meeting the minimum requirements stated above, a combination of bail enforcement training, a background check, and submitting the appropriate documentation will be needed to become licensed. Continue reading below to familiarize yourself with the bail enforcement agent licensure process in Virginia.
1. Obtain the appropriate training.
The Virginia Department requires 40 hours of bail enforcement training (called 44E) for all candidates seeking licensure. You can find a course outline on the Department’s website. Training will consist of ethics, Virginia legislation and basic law, the court system, and fugitive recovery specifics. Pricing for the training will vary; check with the education provider for fee information. At the end of the 44E course, you will have to take and pass the written course examination.
If you have completed an entry-level law enforcement training (like a police academy training) and have at least five continuous years of law enforcement experience OR you have previous bail enforcement training and have been employed for five straight years as a bail agent or fugitive recovery agent, you may be partially exempt from the 40-hour training course.
2. Submit an application.
Upon completing the training, you must submit your bail enforcement agent application to the Department. Along with the application, you must include:
- The $200 license fee
- The fingerprint application form and $50 fee
- The firearms endorsement license and $30 fee
All fees are current as of March 2016.
To submit your fingerprinting application, you must show proof of an acceptable document verifying your legal presence.
If you have ever been found guilty of a misdemeanor or felony, you must provide with your fingerprinting application a criminal history supplemental form. The criminal history form requests additional information on the crimes you were found guilty of and information regarding your parole or probation. The fingerprinting application also acts as your consent to a background check.
The firearms endorsement application certifies that you can legally carry a firearm in the state of Virginia. This endorsement must be renewed annually.
3. Receive your license.
After completing the steps listed above, you will become a licensed bail enforcement agent in Virginia. Bail enforcement agents must renew their licenses every two years. To renew, you must complete eight hours of bail enforcement in-service training and pay the $200 renewal fee (as of March 2016). Renewal applications must include a new fingerprinting application and firearms endorsement application (plus fees).
As noted above, although license renewal is biennial, you must renew your firearms endorsement every year.
Many bail enforcement agents work similar jobs like a private detective (PD) or process server during their down time. These jobs allow bail enforcement agents to gain valuable experience and supplement their income. Continue reading to learn more about the requirements for PDs and process servers in Virginia.
Private Investigator/ Private Detective
Private investigators (PIs) or PDs work to find information on a particular subject or person(s) for their client. PIs are licensed by the Department of Criminal Justice Services. To apply for licensure, you must:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Be a US citizen or legal resident alien
- Complete 60 hours of training
All PIs must be fingerprinted and pass a criminal background check. For more information or to apply, visit the Private Investigator registration page.
A process server works for Virginia’s Judicial System or may be on retainer with a law firm. Process servers file legal papers, serve documents to parties involved in a lawsuit, and retrieve documents as needed. To work in Virginia, process servers must be at least 18 years of age and submit the Form CC-1407 to the court. For more information on becoming a process server in Virginia, visit the county clerk’s office of the county where you intend to work.
Training and Education Options in Virginia
The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice does not require formal education to become a licensed bail enforcement agent. However, possessing a two- or four-year degree in criminal justice or a related field can increase your overall knowledge of the legal system and may boost your ability to find bail enforcement jobs. Listed below are some colleges that offer two-year, associate degrees in criminal justice.
Bryant & Stratton College
301 Centre Pointe Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23462
932 Ventures Way
Chesapeake, VA 23320
7200 Midlothian Tpke
Richmond, VA 23225
Without an active network in place, bail enforcement agents new to the field may find it a daunting task to secure fugitive recovery jobs. To help increase your chances of landing steady work and to gain bail enforcement experience, you should look for a more experienced bail enforcement agent to act as your mentor. Some bail bondsmen may have (or know of) apprenticeship programs; reach out to active bail bondsmen to start making connections in the field.
Featured Bail Agents in Virginia
The Professional Bail Agents of the US listing shows that there are 17 member bail agents employed in the state. Listed below are some well-known and highly-rated bail bond agencies in Virginia.
3 Guys Bail Bonds
2100 Mediterranean Ave, Ste 46
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
Aarrow Bail Bonds
2015 W Laburnum Ave, Ste 105
Richmond, VA 23227
Family Bail Bonds
5020 Ferrell Pkwy, Ste 205-15
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
James Bondsman Bail Bonds
1925 Cedarhurst Dr
Richmond, VA 23225
Ken Roberts Bondsman
5957 E Virginia Beach Blvd
Norfolk, VA 23502
Matlock Bail Bonds
413 S Witchduck Rd
Virginia Beach, VA 23462
Oceanfront Bail Bonds
529 Virginia Beach Blvd
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
Sudden Bail Bonds
1940 Duke St
Alexandria, VA 22314
T Mack Bail Bond LLC
505 Crawford St
Portsmouth, VA 23704
Zimmerman Bail Bonding
221 Harwick Dr
Richmond, VA 23236
Use the Find a Bail Agent tool on the PBUS website to find more bail agents.
Bounty Hunter Salary and Outlook in Virginia
When starting a new career, you should be informed about salary information and job growth data. Because the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide data for bail enforcement agents, we use data for private investigators as a proxy. In Virginia, there are 800 private investigators employed and they earn an average annual salary of $52,610 per year.3,2 Projections Central reports that jobs for PIs in Virginia will increase by 24.8% through 2022.3 The table below provides salary data for private investigators in large cities in Virginia.
|City or Metropolitan Area||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary||Richmond||80||$53,970||Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News||60||$60,140|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.2
Read below to discover professional associations for bail bondsmen and private investigators in Virginia.
- Virginia Bail Agents Associations – An association of professional bail agents in Virginia that provides networking and continuing education opportunities for bail enforcement agents in the state.
- Private Investigator Association of Virginia – An association for registered private investigators in Virginia that provides legal resources, training, and networking opportunities for PIs in the state.
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Virginia: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/VA/PST045219
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015, Virginia: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_va.htm
3. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm