West Virginia Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps
One of the smallest states with a population of only 1.8 million people, West Virginia is also one of the states that allows the profession of bounty hunting.1 In West Virginia, bounty hunters are known as bail bond enforcers and must be registered with the Superintendent of the State Police. If you have a desire to become a bail bond enforcer in the state, you’ll need to understand the registration requirements and how to find work. Continue reading to learn more about the process for becoming a bail bond enforcer in West Virginia.
Requirements for Prospective Bounty Hunters in West Virginia
Although they are not required to be licensed, bail bond enforcers in West Virginia must meet the minimum requirements set forth by the State Police before being registered:
- Be a US citizen
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Have no felony convictions from any state
Steps to a Career as a Bail Bond Enforcer in West Virginia
A bail bond enforcer will work on behalf of a bail bondsman to locate and return fugitives who have skipped bail. In West Virginia, a bail bond enforcer may also assist the bail bondsman by presenting the defendant in court or by keeping the defendant under surveillance while he or she awaits their court date. After satisfying the basic requirements for being a bail bond enforcer in West Virginia, you should complete the following recommended steps in order to become registered.
1. Identify a bail bondsman to sponsor you.
As a bail bond enforcer in West Virginia, you must be authorized by a bail bondsman to act as his or her agent. Your “sponsor” bail bondsman must be selected prior to registering with the West Virginia State Police. You can provide proof that you will be an authorized agent of a bail bondsman by providing a letter of future employment or a power of attorney.
This would also be a good time to identify an experienced bail bondsman or bail bond enforcer to act as your mentor. A mentor may be able to help you find a bail bondsman to work for who can help you in the beginning stages of your career.
2. Submit the registration information.
Bail bond enforcer registration is handled through the Criminal Records Division of the West Virginia State Police. Before you can register with the state police, you must undergo a criminal background and be fingerprinted. You must schedule an appointment with Identogo to complete your fingerprinting and background check. As of June 2016, the fee was $32.50.
Once you pass your background check, you must submit a full-face photograph of yourself to the state police and a written notice from the bail bondsman who you will work for. The West Virginia State Police does not provide a registration form online; instead you must contact the Criminal Records Division directly to register as a bail bond enforcer. By state law, the State Police can charge no more than $50 for registration.
3. Begin working as a bail bond enforcement agent.
After completing the two steps above, you will become a registered bail bond enforcer in West Virginia. You may work as a bail bond enforcer for two years with this registration; after that, you have to undergo another criminal background check and pay the required fees for renewal.
Bail bond enforcers may choose to supplement their income by working in similar professions like as a private investigator or process server. By working in either profession, you are able to enhance your investigative experience. Below is a brief summary of the requirements in West Virginia for both professions.
Private Investigator/ Private Detective
Private investigators (PIs) look for information regarding personal, financial, or criminal matters for their clients. Private investigators in West Virginia are licensed by the West Virginia Secretary of State (SOS). To become a licensed private investigator, you must:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Be a US citizen or resident alien
- Have no license revocations in any other state as a private investigator or security guard
- Have no addictions to any narcotics or alcohol
- Have no felony convictions (in any state)*
*Review the SOS website for a complete listing of convictions that will disqualify your application as a private investigator.
To become a private investigator, you must have at least two years of experience. The experience can come from a combination of education, training, and work experience in the following areas:
- Courses (or coursework) relating to investigation from an accredited college or university
- Experience in a US government investigative agency
- Experience in a law enforcement agency
- Experience working for a licensed private investigator
- Service as a magistrate (however, you cannot serve as a magistrate and private investigator simultaneously)
If you meet these qualifications, submit an application to the Secretary of State. As of June 2016, the license fee was $150.
Process servers work for the courts to file legal papers and serve documents to parties involved in a lawsuit. Process servers in West Virginia must be 18 years of age and authorized by their county court. To get started working as a process server, contact your local court.
Training and Education Options in West Virginia
If you wish to work as a bail bond enforcer, it will be advantageous for you to understand the criminal justice system and human behavior. To gain this knowledge, you should consider obtaining a two- or four-year degree in criminal justice. An associate degree or certificate in criminal justice can complement any other investigative or bail enforcement training that you may already possess. A criminal justice degree program can enhance your knowledge of the legal system and help improve your critical thinking and decision-making skills. Possessing such a degree may also show your employers that you are serious about your career. Listed below are a few schools in West Virginia with an associate degree program in West Virginia.
Blue Ridge Community and Technical College
13650 Apple Harvest Dr
Martinsburg, WV 25403
Glenville State College
200 High St
Glenville, WV 26351
Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College
2001 Union Carbide Drive
South Charleston, WV 25303
Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College
3505 Daniel Boone Pkwy
Foster WV 25081
As a part of the registration process, you are required to identify a bail bondsman to work under, so finding work in West Virginia is a bit easier than it is in other states. You should reach out to potential mentors to help you as you begin your bail bond enforcer career. You may also wish to join professional networks or small groups of bail bond enforcers, bail agents, and private investigators to increase your network and gain access to professional resources. Four member bail bond agencies are listed on the Professional Bail Agents of the US website.
Featured Bail Agents in West Virginia
Below are some well-known or highly-rated bail bond agencies in West Virginia. Use these listings to identify a sponsor bondsman and/or future work opportunities.
A-A ACE BAIL by Frances LLC
2135 Dorchester Rd
North Charleston, SC 29405
A Regional Bail Bonding Co
501 S Raleigh St
Martinsburg, WV 25401
After Hours Bail Bonds
116 W Burke St
Martinsburg, WV 25401
Cash Discount Bail Bonds
1305 Coleridge St
Charleston, SC 29407
3376 Stewartstown Rd
Morgantown, WV 26508
Ronald Holliday Bail Bonding
3740 Leeds Ave
North Charleston, SC 29405
Steel City Bail Bonds
4476 Leeds Pl W
North Charleston, SC 29405
For a listing of even more bail agents in West Virginia, use the Find a Bail Agent tool on the PBUS website.
Bounty Hunter Salary and Outlook in West Virginia
Salary data is not provided for bail bond enforcers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), so we use the data provided for private investigators as a proxy. The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV metropolitan area has the ninth-highest average salary for private investigators in the nation.2 Projections Central reports that 40 private investigators are employed in West Virginia, and they earn an average annual salary (in the DC-VA-WV metropolitan area) of $64,060.3,2 It is projected that between now and the year 2022, jobs for private investigators in West Virginia will increase by 10.5%.3
|City or Metropolitan Area||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
*Data not available. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.2
To increase your professional network, consider joining bail bond associations like the one listed below.
- Private Investigator and Security Professionals of West Virginia – An association of private investigators in West Virginia working to increase the professionalism and standards of the industry.
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, West Virginia: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/54,00
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015, Private Investigator: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes339021.htm
3. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com