How to Become a Bounty Hunter in California

So, you want to become a bounty hunter in California? Well, that can be a lot easier said than done. California has some of the strictest requirements for bounty hunters in the United States. Yet, that doesn’t mean that becoming a bounty hunter is either a bad idea or impossible. Let’s break it down a bit.

First, is Bounty Hunting Legal in California?

Bounty hunting became part of the U.S. Law Enforcement System after a decision in the Taylor v. Taintor Supreme Court case in 1872.

“When the bail is given, the principal is regarded as delivered to the custody of his sureties. Their domain is a continuance of the original imprisonment. Whenever they choose to do so, they may seize him and deliver him up to his discharge; and if it cannot be done at once, they may imprison him until it can be done. They may exercise their rights in person or by agent. They may pursue him into another state; may arrest him on the Sabbath; and if necessary, may break and enter his house for that purpose. The seizure is not made by virtue of due process. None is needed. It is likened to the arrest by the sheriff of an escaped prisoner.” – Taylor v. Taintor, 1872, United States Supreme Court.

What is a Bounty Hunter, and What Do They Do?

The term “bounty hunter” is an older term for a “bail enforcement agent” or “fugitive recovery agent” (Wikipedia).

Bounty hunters provide necessary service for bail bonds companies like us here at Bad Boys Bail Bonds. Some of the services that bounty hunters offer include:

  • Arresting fugitives who skipped bail
  • Help bail bonds companies recover potentially lost assets due to people skipping bail
  • Provide incentives for defendants to avoid skipping bail

How to Become a Bounty Hunter in California

Now that you know what the responsibilities of a bounty hunter are, we can discuss ways in which to become one in California.

Step 1 – Meet the Requirements for Bounty Hunter Eligibility in California

First, the base requirements for eligibility include:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • You have to be a documented U.S. citizen
  • To be a bounty hunter in California, you must be a current California resident
  • The person in question cannot have any felony convictions
  • Completion of a 40-hour Police Officer Standard Training (POST) power of arrest course
  • You also must complete and pass a 20-hour Department of Insurance approved pre-licensing bail education class

Step 2 – Take Higher-Education Courses

Next, there are several higher-education courses and areas of study that will help you become a licensed bounty hunter. Some of the recommended courses and areas of study include:

  • Law
  • Criminal Justice
  • Criminology
  • Police Science
  • Psychology (not explicitly related, yet often-recommended. It’s a great starting point or preparatory course/major for the aforementioned recommended courses)

Step 3 – Pass All Required Coursework and Certifications

After you have prepared with appropriate higher education coursework, you can begin taking the required courses. Required bounty hunter courses in California include:

Please note that as stated in the 2013 Bail Fugitive Recovery Persons Act, bounty hunters must keep certificates proving that they have passed their courses. Also, you must provide written authorization from the bail or depositor of bail. If you do not maintain those documents, you will no longer have the authority to arrest and apprehend bail fugitives.

Step 4 – Find Employment

Once you have become certified as a bounty hunter in California, it’s time to start looking for work. To find work as a bounty hunter, you will have to talk with a bail bonds company like us here at Bad Boys Bail Bonds. The bail company you choose will have its own requirements and application processes for you to complete. After finding a bail company and completing your application, you’re ready to start hunting bail fugitives!

But, before you pursue any fugitive, you will first have to inform local law enforcement of your plans. Also, you must never misrepresent yourself as local, federal, or state law enforcement in any way, shape, or form.


Bounty hunters provide necessary services in California. They keep bail fugitives off the streets and help bail bonds companies continue to offer their services. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a California bounty hunter, then please feel free to contact us here at Bad Boys Bail Bonds. We’re always standing by to help.