How to Be a Bounty Hunter in Oklahoma

Bounty hunters help to put fugitives behind bars.
Bounty hunters help to put fugitives behind bars. (Image: Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Bounty hunters perform a dangerous task by bringing fugitives to justice when they flee while out on bail or fail to appear for a court appearance. In Oklahoma, anyone can become a bounty hunter. Most bounty hunters in the state are employed by bail bondsmen, who have paid the bail for the fugitive and cannot get it back until the fugitive is recaptured. They pay a percentage of the bond amount to the bounty hunter. While bail bondsmen must obtain a license to do their work, there are no legal requirements needed to become a bounty hunter in Oklahoma. To maximize success, though, it is best for someone interested in becoming a bounty hunter in the state to follow a few basic steps.

Consult with a bail bondsman to find out what he looks for in a bounty hunter. He might provide you with some contact information that you can use to gain more background information from an actual bounty hunter. You are more likely to find bail bondsmen and bounty hunters in the larger communities of Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Both can provide pointers to help you start a career as a bounty hunter. Networking with bounty hunters might open some doors for jobs in the future.

Learn Oklahoma’s laws on bounty hunters and learn the laws in other states, too. Oklahoma requires out-of-state bounty hunters to be accompanied by a peace officer or licensed bond agent when apprehending a bail jumper. Oklahoma law does not require the same when a bounty hunter is working in his home state. In Illinois, a 1963 state statute makes it illegal for a bail bondsman or a bounty hunter working for a bondsman to transport unwillingly any person who is alleged to be in violation of a bail bond to another state. In Kentucky, a bounty hunter must obtain a warrant before making a seizure. In Texas, a bounty hunter must obtain a warrant and must take the individual before a magistrate before transporting him across state lines.

Complete the state’s Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) program. You must complete Phase I, Phase III and Phase IV of this training program to be a licensed armed private investigator in Oklahoma. While there is no requirement for a PI license for bounty hunters in the state, it is a requirement in Texas, and there is a fair chance that you’ll be crossing the border into Texas to apprehend fugitives. You can obtain an unarmed PI license by completing Phase I and Phase III, but most bounty hunters prefer to have the right to possess a loaded weapon for use in the field.

Learn specific skills needed to have success as a bounty hunter. This includes surveillance, interviewing, apprehension techniques and skip tracing, an investigative skill that involves using various resources to track down individuals. You likely obtained some education in one or more of these areas during the Oklahoma CLEET training process, but you can sharpen your skills by turning to one of many investigative training programs. Some are geared specifically to bounty hunting. Many of the courses are offered online.

Apply for an armed PI license through the Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training. The cost of a license is $141. You must have your signature notarized, and you must include a legible copy of a CLEET finger card, a certified court judgment or letter showing that you have no criminal record, three current passport-size photos, a completed record check by the local police department and sheriff’s department, documented proof of completion of the necessary CLEET training and an Affidavit of Lawful presence.

Market yourself. Since most bounty hunters work for bail bondsmen, you should make phone calls and personal visits to bail bondsmen in Oklahoma. Focus on the largest cities such as Tulsa and Oklahoma City. There is more crime and a greater need for bail bondsmen and bounty hunters in large cities. You can search online for crime statistics to help you target certain cities. You also can market yourself by sending mail materials to bails bondsmen in other states. They might turn to you if they think a fugitive is in Oklahoma. Include in your sales pitch information about why you make a good bail bondsman. Be sure to mention that you know all of the necessary laws and are a licensed armed PI. This is likely to increase your chances of being hired.

Start small. Before you try to track down a well-hidden criminal whose arrest will bring a large profit, try to target individuals who committed lesser crimes and who are more likely to be accessible. As you gain experience, you can begin targeting more serious and, potentially, more dangerous criminals.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are unsure of a state’s laws, visit a sheriff’s office in the state and ask someone about the laws for that state.
  • To improve your apprehension skills, enroll in one or more courses in martial arts and improve your physical fitness.

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