Texas laws regulate the qualifications and licensing requiring for bail bondsmen. To be eligible, you must be a U.S. citizen residing in Texas who is at least 18 years old and has never been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude. A corporation can also be a licensed bail bondsman if it is chartered or admitted to do business in the state and qualifies under the Texas Insurance Code to write fidelity, surety and guaranty bonds.
Training and Education
Before you can apply to become a licensed bail bondsman, you will have to complete an apprenticeship under a licensed Texas bondsman. This means continuous employment for at least a year at not less than 30 hours per week. During this time you will have to have performed all the tasks of a bondsman. It's also necessary to complete eight hours of in-person classroom education in criminal law or bail bond law courses approved by the State Bar of Texas and offered by an accredited Texas institution of higher learning.
The application for professional bail bondsman license must be submitted to the County Bail Bond Board (if applicable) or the state. The application must include your name, age and address, the name under which you plan to do business, the address of each place where your business will be conducted, and a list of nonexempt real property (see Section 1704.155) to be executed in trust to the board as collateral on bonds. In addition, the application must include a sworn financial statement by you, a declaration of compliance with Texas law, three letters of recommendation from reputable persons, a set of fingerprints, a passport photo, and the $500 filing fee. Upon satisfying the financial requirements and any other reasonable inquiries into your application, your license will be granted.
If there is a County Bail Bond Board, they will conduct initial inquiries into your application. There will also be a hearing by state representatives to determine preliminary acceptance. If successful, you will then have to either deposit cash with the county treasurer or execute deeds in the county's favor with a combined total of at least $50,000 ($10,000 in counties with a population under a quarter of a million people). As a bondsman, you will not be able to have outstanding bonds exceeding 10 times the value of your collateral, or half of the net worth of your nonexempt property.
Joseph Nicholson is an independent analyst whose publishing achievements include a cover feature for "Futures Magazine" and a recurring column in the monthly newsletter of a private mint. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida and is currently attending law school in San Francisco.