Fugitive recovery agents, or bounty hunters, are people who act as bail recovery agents. If you want to become a bounty hunter in the state of Arizona, then you will need to undergo some training and get a qualification first.
Bounty hunters pursue people who have, for whatever reason, skipped bail. It is their job to find them and bring them back so that they can face the courts. It is a rewarding and exciting profession, but it can be risky. Some cases are simple you show up and arrest the person and they come quietly. Some are a lot harder, and people will try to resist with violence being a genuine risk.
In Arizona, you are required to obtain licensure before you can serve as a bounty hunter. The profession is governed by the Arizona Department of Insurance and there are strict laws that a fugitive recovery agent must understand and follow at all times. Other states have different laws, with some being much more relaxed than others, so if you have worked in a different state you might want to take some time to learn the laws of Arizona before you try to work there.
Before you can become a bounty hunter in Arizona:
Bounty hunting is a difficult job that requires physical fitness as well as mental clarity. Most bounty hunters will follow a fitness regimen that may include both weight training and cardio, as well as some self-defence training in a street-applicable martial art. They should also study criminal law and a little psychology, so they know what they are dealing with. There are training courses that look at bounty hunting, and some dedicated bounty hunters obtain degrees in related fields such as law, psychology or public policy but this is not mandatory.
There are some state requirements in Arizona that bounty hunters must comply with. These act as a form of ‘license’ although strictly speaking it is not a true license.
Bounty hunters must use the FD-258 fingerpint card to submit their fingerprints. There is a $22 fee for processing for this. They should also submit the L-BFP form with a clear photograph of their face alongside it.
Once they have done this, it is possible to get jobs from a number of organisations. Some of the organisations that operate in Arizona include all of the Didn't Do It Bail Bonds locations. The bail bondsman will check that you are fulfilling state requirements before issuing an assignment, so make sure that you have submitted all the required documentation and paid the fee before requesting work.
Of course, the real question that people are interested in is how do you get paid to be a bounty hunter in Arizona. Once you have completed an assignment, you can invoice the agency for payment. The challenge with this kind of work is that you get paid only when you succeed so if you can’t track people down or bring them in, then you will not earn anything for that job. This is a part of the reason why training and support is so important.
To keep your certification you will need to resubmit your paperwork every three years, and you will also need to make sure that you do not break the law in any way since some offences can bar you from being a bounty hunter. If you need professional support, there are a number of organisations that can help you, including the National Association of Bail Enforcement Agents, and the National Association of Fugitive Recovery Agents.
These agencies offer training and advice to help people track people down, and to help them figure out safe ways to deal with people who have skipped bail. In some cases you may find that you are competing against other bounty hunters, and that could put you in a difficult position that must be dealt with diplomatically. Tread carefully and try not to make enemies, because you never know when another bounty hunter could actually help you.
Joining one of the national associations could help you with other work such as PI work, and could help with surveillance, tracing, and also disputes with the bond agencies. It can be beneficial for investigation and recovery services, and for helping with membership difficulties.
Bounty hunters are not law enforcement officers, and the public, police and federal agencies all know that and sometimes this can cause disputes and disagreements. It is important that you understand what you are dealing with and the limits of your rights, responsibilities and powers so that you can do a good job and deal with people who have skipped bail in a professional and safe manner while maintaining goodwill and a good relationship with people.
Another thing that the associations can help you with is understanding the law. You have to be licensed in some states to be a PI or to do skip tracing and bond skip arrests – but the same does not apply for every state. This means that even if you are working in Arizona, you could make extra cash by doing work for other states as well as long as you understand the law and operate within it.
Bounty hunting is an interesting career and it is something that a lot of young adults choose to do. Not everyone will make it. It can be a high stress and high pressure career and you need to be fit, creative and driven. There will be times that you will face people who are openly hostile, aggresive and violent. Sometimes people might try to retaliate against you and perhaps even threaten your friends and family, so many people opt to leave the profession when they get older and have more ties because they don't want to end up fighting. That doesn't mean that it's not a great profession, though – there are people who manage to have a good work-life balance and do bounty hunting for many decades, building up their own support networks along the way and getting contacts in the industry.
You will need to invest in continuing professional development to stay abreast of changes in the law and also so that you know how to trace people, and how to safely arrest your targets. The world has changed a lot even in the last few years and technology opens up new ways of tracking people and new ways of covering your tracks too.
When it comes to safety, you will need to keep yourself fit and well trained. A bounty hunter that cannot run short distances or get involved in combat when it is absolutely necessary is either going to perform poorly on the job or end up getting seriously injured.
It is not uncommon for bounty hunters to work together – brothers or father and son teams, or even small companies of friends, taking multiple jobs in the same area, but having each other's backs when needed. Criminals will often have friends with them, so it makes sense for the bounty hunters to work together too.
The money per job can vary massively depending on what the bail was set at and the severity of the offences. On average, a bounty hunter in Arizona can expect to make $40,000 a year which is a respectable salary although the job is risky which means that some people do opt to go for a desk job that offers higher earnings, once they get a little older. Remember that you will need to cover your health insurance, as well as professional fees, and that it's not really a job that you can do while you are injured or sick.
If you are serious about becoming a bounty hunter, then the training is inexpensive compared to the type of profession that you are getting into and it is something where there is a lot of opportunity to learn and grow on the job. There are some areas where you do need to be ‘prepared' before you start though. Make sure you know where the law stands on crossing state lines, and make sure that you know what you are allowed to do and whether you need to be dressed in a certain way to make an arrest. Arizona is actually more relaxed than some states when it comes to attire and job performance – but it can be easy to make a mistake if you try to operate in more than one state.
Make sure that you notify law enforcement promptly after arresting someone. There are rules surrounding arrests and you have to follow them so that you are not seen as taking the law into your own hands.
Try not to engage in violence unless you absolutely need to. Remember that there is such a thing as excessive force, and criminals know their rights and will try to use any technicality that they can in order to preserve their own liberty. Be wary, in particular, of entering property to apprehend someone, because if you are thought to have ‘broken in' or been trespassing then this could land you in trouble.
Bounty hunting can be a real minefield. The more you know about the law, the easier it will be for you to just take a good job and get paid. Having a good relationship with the main bail agencies and also a sound understanding of the law will get you a long way. Learning about tracing, searching, and tracking people using legal methods with a computer will also be helpful.
A few decades ago, bounty hunters did a lot of pavement pounding and talking to people who ‘knew people', but now there is a lot that can be done with a laptop without ever leaving the office. Once you get comfortable with that side of things you will find that bounty hunting is a very different practice, and that you can earn money quite efficiently. There is still that element of getting out there and making arrests, though, and that is something that does carry risk with it.
Are you confident in your ability to subdue someone who may be drunk or on drugs? Do you know how to safely control someone while also keeping yourself safe? You don't just want to win a fight – you want to make sure that neither you, nor your target get hurt and you want to make sure that no innocent bystanders get hurt either. You won't get paid if you try to apprehend someone and they fight back, injure people and run away. You don't want someone getting severely hurt, and having their quality of life affected, to be on your conscience.
Arizona is a place where crimes can vary from petty theft to things that are far more serious. Bounty hunting will introduce you to people from all walks of life and some of it will be interesting and pleasant, but a lot of it will be a little more ugly. Think carefully about whether that is the career that you want to engage in, and talk to other bounty hunters before you commit. If you really want to do it, then send off your ID and fingerprints, and get started. It will be a wild ride.
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