Category Archives: Bail

How to Become a Bounty Hunter (First Hint: The Correct Term is Recovery Agent)

Jeff Downer  There seems to be a great deal of interest from people about becoming a bounty hunter.  It is not as simple a process as some may believe and the nature of the job is often misunderstood.  What follows is a description of the process here in Indiana and some thoughts about pursuing this type of work.

Perhaps the the first thing to understand is that within the commercial bail industry the term “Bounty Hunter” is discouraged.  The use of “Recovery Agent” is preferred and recognized as the professional designation for those who locate and apprehend fugitives for bail bond companies.

It should not be surprising that recovery agents and their activities are strictly regulated.  The work can at times be dangerous for the agent, the fugitive as well as the public. Almost every state mandates recovery agents to be licensed and the licensing requirements can vary greatly from state to state.  Below are the  licensing requirements per the Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI):

All applications must include:

  1. A recent digital full face photograph and your signature on the specimen sheet to be included on your license.  If you prefer, pictures can be taken in our office by appointment only.
  2. Certified fingerprint card from local law enforcement, or a receipt from L-1 Identify Solutions showing that you have been fingerprinted.
  3. Recent Credit Bureau Report (Free): http://www.annualcreditreport.com/
  4. Criminal History Check completed by Indiana State Police.
  5. Photo copies of other Professional Licenses that you hold.
  6. Application fee of $650 (check or money order).
  7. Completion Certificate for 12 credit hours of Pre-Licensing Education.
  8. Passing test results.

In addition there is a $100 testing fee.

After meeting all of the requirements and assuming no disqualifying conditions exist, a license will be awarded.  For application forms and further information on recovery agent licensing, here is the link to the IDOI Recovery Agent licensing web page.  The Indiana recovery agent license must be renewed every two years by completing continuing education requirements and paying a $300 renewal fee.

Acquiring the license is just the first step.  Getting work comes next.  Any and all fugitives are not fair game for every recovery agent.  Agreements need to be made with the bonding companies seeking any particular fugitive.  Competition for these agreements can be fierce.  An aspiring agent needs to understand what the bonding companies are looking for in a recovery agent in order to develop working relationships with them.

Recovery is all about locating and apprehending fugitives, not confrontation and intimidation.  Bonding companies want recovery agents who understand concepts like:

  •   The importance of qualities like interpersonal skills and diligence instead of kicking in doors.
  •   High tech skills mean effective online skip tracing and not utilizing the latest in laser gun sights.
  •   Weapons and personal protection gear are intended to provide agent safety and are not a green light for aggressive high risk behavior.

Bottom line is bonding companies want agents who can work with law enforcement instead of being arrested by them.  Avoiding lawsuits is a best practice as well.

There is one final item bonding companies value and it is the most important: experience.  Gaining experience may not as difficult as it sounds.  Recovery work is often a team activity, allowing newly minted agents opportunities to find and work with proven recovery agents out in the field.

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Posted in Bail, Bounty Hunter, Fugitive, Recovery Agent. Tagged with .

How to Become a Bail Bondsman

Jeff Downer   As a licensed Indiana bail agent I have received so many inquiries from people curious about the process of becoming a bail bondsman that I decided to provide a primer on how to go about it.

The first thing to know is that bail bondsmen in almost every state are regulated (usually by that state’s department of insurance) and exact requirements for securing a bail bondsman’s license will vary from state to state.  In this instance we are dealing only with Indiana’s licensing requirements.

Per the Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI), obtaining an Indiana bail agent license requires a completed application form and the following

All applications must include:

  1. A recent digital full face photograph and your signature on the specimen sheet to be included on your license.  If you prefer, pictures can be taken in our office by appointment only.
  2. Certified fingerprint card from local law enforcement, or a receipt from L-1 Identify Solutions showing that you have been fingerprinted.
  3. Recent Credit Bureau Report (Free): http://www.annualcreditreport.com/
  4. Criminal History Check completed by Indiana State Police.
  5. Photo copies of other Professional Licenses that you hold.
  6. Application fee of $650 (check or money order).
  7. Completion Certificate for 12 credit hours of Pre-Licensing Education.
  8. Passing test results.

In addition there is is a testing fee.

After these requirements are met (assuming no disqualifying conditions exist) and a contract with a licensed surety insurance provider is secured, the bail agent license will be issued.

Once a licensed is awarded it must be renewed every two years by completing continuing education requirements and paying a $650 renewal fee.

Here is the link to contact the IDOI for application forms and further information.

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Posted in Bail, Bondsman, Indiana. Tagged with , , , .

International Bail Bond Scams

Jeff Downer  There has been a widespread scam involving the posting of bail bonds overseas that I would like to alert folks about, particularly grandparents.  This scam is not new but it doesn’t seem to be going away so I thought it is worth making sure folks were aware of it.

The premise of the scam is straightforward:

  • A grandparent receives a call from someone pretending to be a grandchild and/or a person acting on their behalf.
  • A false story is spun about the grandchild traveling to another country (usually Latin America), being arrested and needing bail money wired overseas.
  • That time is of the essence is emphasized to create a sense of frenzied urgency.
  • The grandparents are also urged not to contact the grandchild’s parents to avoid further family drama.

The steps to defeat the scammers are just common sense and easy to implement:

  • Don’t get flustered.  Take some time to think the situation over.
  • Ask specific questions when contacted to verify that it is indeed the grandchild in question
  • Try to call or contact the grandchild directly as well as other family members to determine what the true situation is.
  • Ask law enforcement to verify the story.

Here two news media accounts of how international bail scammers were thwarted in Massachusetts and Maine.  In one case it was simple as as calling the grandchild at home.

Finally, the FBI has issued a bulletin describing the scam and outlining what to do when contacted by potential scammers and what actions to take if you are already a victim.

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Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, International, Jail, Law Enforcement. Tagged with , .

Stowaways and Bail

Jeff Downer  Bail is an international criminal justice practice.  The implementation of bail around the world can very greatly with each country and unique situations can certainly arise when determining admittance to bail.

I recently came across this news article from the Pacific island country of Fiji.   The Chief Justice of Fiji was weighing a defendant’s past history of being charged as a stowaway while deciding if he should be eligible for bail.  Apparently stowing on away is a common enough practice to be considered a criminal act in Fiji.  The court eventually decided to allow the defendant to post bail with a series of strict conditions.

I must admit that this kind of thing just doesn’t come out during bail hearings here in Indiana, but it does make me wonder if anyone rides the rails out of town anymore.

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Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, International.

What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor?

Jeff Downer   Remember this old sea shanty tune?

What shall we do with a drunken sailor,

What shall we do with a drunken sailor,

What shall we do with a drunken sailor,

Early in the morning?

That was the question being asked when Laguna Beach, CA police arrested an unidentified man for boating under the influence after his sailboat ran aground.

The  answer of course:

Haul him away to post bail with the jailer,

Haul him away to post bail with the jailer,

Haul him away to post bail with the jailer,

Early in the morning.

Although the inebriated sailor was not named, word on the street says it was either Captain Morgan or Sailor Jerry.

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Posted in Bail, National, Smiles.

When I Sign on a Bail Bond, What Are My Responsibilities?

Jeff Downer  When an individual bails someone out of jail they are presented with a lot of paperwork to sign consisting of what is often disparagingly called legalese.  Such fineprint found on bail bond applications is often not readily transparent and as might be expected spells out significant responsibilities of the person (called the indemnitor) signing on the bond.

What the paperwork is spelling out is that if the defendant fails to appear, the indemnitor is agreeing to bear the financial repercussions of the defendant failing to appear in court.  These repercussions include:

  • Costs of locating, apprehending and transporting the defendant
  • Any legal fees incurred
  • The amount of the bail bond forfeited to the court

Undertaking such obligations requires some serious thought.  The foremost question, of course, being:  Is the defendant a flight risk?   As long the defendant attends all their court dates, the indemnitor has nothing to fear.  If the defendant does become a fugitive the indemnitor must be willing to work with the bonding company to locate the defendant in order to minimize any financial obligations that may be incurred.

When considering whether to bond someone out, please bear these things in mind and do not hesitate to ask the bail agent any questions you might have about the paperwork you would be expected to sign.

Find here the application forms we use at Jeff Downer Bail Bonds.

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Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, Business, Legal, Surety Bond. Tagged with , , .

Travel with Outstanding Warrants

Jeff Downer  I spend a fair amount of time reading and participating in criminal justice blogs and forums.  A common concern seems to be about traveling with outstanding arrest warrants.  People want to know if they are liable to be arrested on these warrants while passing through airports and other ports of call.

The answer is arrest on an outstanding warrant is a distinct possibility.  Consider the plight of the mother who was arrested on a warrant while  disembarking from a Disney cruise with her family in Port Canaveral, FL (“Book her Mickey!”).

It seems that she had been arrested for stealing a pack of cigarettes at Walmart when she was 18.  She had failed to pay $85 in court costs and a warrant had been issued some 22 years earlier.

She remained in custody without bail for several days until she could transferred to the originating jurisdiction of the warrant and take care of the matter.

If you do have a warrant, traveler beware.

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Posted in Bail, Fugitive, International, Law Enforcement. Tagged with , .

Well…This is Something New.

Jeff Downer  As I get older and more jaded, I am sometimes lulled into thinking that I have heard it all when it comes to bail bonds.  Then I come across something like this.

Per allAfrica.com:

Former Kampala socialite and jailbird Bad Black aka Shanita Namuyimbwa has successfully had her breast implants fixed after she secured a sh100m bail to seek treatment in Dubai.

Once again, I stand corrected.  All I got to say is: Dubai or bust.

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Posted in Bail, International, Smiles.

Magic Kingdom Mischief

Jeff Downer   Just ran across this account of a (thankfully) minor traffic incident involving an undercover police officer and a Disneyland employee in Anaheim, CA.  It seems that local law enforcement was conducting an undercover operation at the intersection of Disneyland Drive at Magic Way.

What could have instigated an law enforcement investigation at that location?  Mickey pimping Minnie?  Snow White selling blow?  Mouseketeers wearing gang colors?

I can only imagine Deputy Donald Duck reading them their rights.

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Posted in Bail, Law Enforcement, Smiles.

Where to Post a Marion County Cash Bond

Jeff Downer  In Marion County, IN bail bonds are often required by the courts to be of the cash variety.  Cash bonds are commonly referred to as CS bonds and are paid directly to the court clerk.  The cash bond may be posted as a stand alone bond or as part of a split bond (known as XC or XR bonds) in conjunction with a surety bail bond posted by a bail bondsman.

The question then arises of where these cash bonds can be posted.  There are two locations where cash bonds are accepted.  These locations are the City-County Building in Room T-644 or at the Arrestee Processing Center (APC) at 752 East Market Street.

The City-County Building location is open week days during normal business hours while the APC court clerks is available on a 24/7 basis.  For accessibility and parking reasons I would suggest posting a cash bond at the APC.

Click here for phone numbers and directions for the court clerks office and the APC.

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Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, Cash Bond, Indiana, Indianapolis. Tagged with .