Bondsmen still form a vital link in the mighty law chain of South Carolina. They are still one of the best options to people seeking release from jail. As a bondsman, you will have to guarantee a defendant’s availability once he or she posts bail. You will give a surety bond to the court at a fee to the defendant. All goes well if the defendant doesn’t skip bail otherwise you will have to forfeit the bail you pledged to the court.
South Carolina Department of Insurance recognizes three types of bondsmen:
- Runner bondsman (bounty hunters)
- Surety bondsman
- Professional bondsman
The process of acquiring a license as a professional or surety bondsman are the same and follow these general steps:
- Meeting the minimum required standards
- Taking South Carolina pre-license education
- Passing the bail bondsman exam
- Applying for a license
- Renewing and maintaining your license
The Difference Between a Professional and Surety Bondsman
The main difference between the two is professional bondsman can guarantee up to four times the collateral stated by the county clerk of the court while the surety bondsman only pledges a power of the lawyer that is issued by a preapproved insurance company. Surety bondsmen must-have producer licenses and endorsement from a licensed insurance carrier. The good news is you can be both in South Carolina.
The Minimum Requirements
You must be at least 18 years of age and have no felony convictions in the past 10 years to be a bondsman in South Carolina.
The Pre-Licensing Education
You will have to finish a course study with one of the approved educators in South Carolina. The course totals are around 20 hours for professional bondsmen and at least 60 hours for surety bondsman license. Once you are done with the course, you will receive a Certification of Completion that will be needed when you apply for the license.
Pro Tip: Having a background in criminal justice will help you in this career. It could be a bachelor’s or associate’s program.
Taking the South Carolina Bondsman Exam
Once you are done with the training, it is time to take the exam. You can schedule for the exam on the PSI website and will have to pay $45. The exam takes 60 minutes and is divided into:
- Insurance regulation
- Legal framework
- Bail bond principles and practices
Applying for the License
After passing the exam, you must apply for the license within 12 months otherwise you will have to redo the test. You can make the application online and will need:
- A license fee ($400 for professional bondsman and $40 for surety bondsman)
- A passport size photo
- Certificate of Completion from the prelicensing exam
- Original examination report from PSI
- Two fingerprint cards completed and certified by a law enforcement officer
- Bank statements or certificates of deposit to prove your networth
Once you have the certificate, you will have to pay $150 per year to your local county clerk of the court to keep your license. Apart from this, South Carolina demands that you complete at least six hours of continued education per year to stay valid.