How Can a Felon Get Bonded?

This blog post will cover how a felon can get bonded.

  • What is A Bond?
  • What Does a Company Look For?
  • Background Checks
  • Seeking Remedy Through The Courts
  • Helpful Resources

What is A Bond?

A bond is an insurance policy. It protects an employer against money or property loss if an employee is dishonest. Some criminal convictions make many felons ineligible for bonding. As a convicted felon, you are considered a  “high risk.”

There are different bonds depending on the position of the employee and the type of work. A risk management bond protects an employer against the loss of finances from employees who have access to cash, deeds, securities, and checks. This bond provides funding to the company. It is money to keep the company running and to pay for the daily operations.

A fidelity bond provides an employer protection against losses that are caused by its employees’ fraudulent or dishonest deeds. It protects against monetary or physical losses like fraudulent trading, theft, and forgery.  It also covers persons employed on a contract basis. Bond requirements vary from state to state.

What Does A Company Look For?

A company processes your application in order to issue you a bond. It then performs an investigation of you to determine if you are an acceptable risk.

The bonding company will do a credit check, a background check and look into your personal history. The bonding company will check your credit history before approving you. Bonding companies want to know how trustworthy you are. Having bad credit doesn’t necessarily bar you from getting bonded. However, some companies will not bond you.

A background check will be run against you. A criminal history is not good. For some companies it makes you look untrustworthy. Drug convictions, acts of violence, and theft are all examples of criminal activity that can hurt your chances of getting bonded.

Some companies will look into your personal history as well. They’re looking for a history of substance abuse, a dishonorable discharge from the military, or a lack of work history. They consider these indicators as troublesome.

Background Checks

Background checks are very common. There can be problems when a felony turns up on yours…and who knows what else. A 2006 U.S. Department of Justice(DOJ) report on criminal background checks showed that there is no single source for complete and up-to-date criminal history records. Even the FBI was missing information from 50 percent of its records.

Commercial databases are not accurate because:

  • not all states and agencies share information
  • information is not regularly updated
  • private companies conduct name-based checks versus fingerprint based

The Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau investigate such incidents. Therefore your background check can affect employment, housing, child custody, and your getting bonded.

It would be wise to pull your background check and see what is on it. You might need to correct some wrong information. You can practice answers to any questions about your past. You might have to appear in person for your license.

It is a good idea for you to pull your credit history and a background check on yourself. The credit histories on the three major bureaus  are free and you can do it once a year. You can see what is out there and clear up any wrong information.

A background check is going to reveal your criminal history. Performing  one beforehand allows you to formulate responses for the questions during the interviewing process. Also, you might need to correct some wrong information.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)  requires employers to give you a copy of the report so that you can read the employer’s review. You can also correct anything that is wrong.

The Clean Slate Clearinghouse involves low-level convictions and cases with no convictions. It helps make people aware that they are eligible to get their record cleared.  It also eliminates the associated costs of attorneys and other fees. Pennsylvania has already enacted a clean slate law. Utah and Connecticut are set to follow suit as well as other states.

Seeking Remedy Through The Courts

If your felony record is still preventing you from getting bonded you have some options. You can get your record expunged or sealed. it improves your chances of getting bonded dramatically.  The process of expungement or getting your records sealed depends on the state where you live. You should seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney for this and be honest about your situation.

You will need to demonstrate initiative—that you are actively attempting to get back into society. This can be done by going to counseling, advancing in your education, and being gainfully employed. Completing some type of re-entry program is extremely helpful toward self improvement and getting your record expunged. Once completed, you will be able to claim that you do not have a felony record.

If you never committed the felony you can seek a pardon or a Certificate of  Actual Innocence. A pardon is a form of clemency. You are forgiven for your crime but you still have your felony record. You can be eligible for a presidential pardon five years after your sentence or release from confinement. A presidential pardon does not expunge your record.

A Certificate of Actual  Innocence says that you are innocent and that you should have never been arrested. It states that the criminal mark should have never existed in the first place. You can not get a Certificate of Actual Innocence in every state.

In The Case of Florida

In Florida you can have your record expunged or sealed. However, state and federal law enforcement agencies will still have access to your records. Judges have access to your sealed records online.

If you are a defendant you might have to reveal your felony conviction. For example, if you are  trying to become a court appointed guardian.

Many employers will still have access to your sealed or expunged records.

In Florida, expunging or sealing a record does not update onto federal or private databases. Private companies can purchase the information from the counties and state.

The Federal Bonding Program

It is difficult for a felon to get bonded. You are considered an ‘at risk” employee. Insurance companies usually designate ex-offenders as being “not bondable.” You are considered dishonest and untrustworthy.

The U.S. Department of Labor established the Federal Bonding Program in 1966 to provide fidelity bonds for hard-to-place job seekers, like yourself. The bond covers the first six months of employment. You nor your employer pay for this.  There is a bonding coordinator in each state and the American Job Center can help find employment.

While you are looking for a job and getting bonded don’t be discouraged. Get connected with a reentry program. There are multiple reentry programs located in each of the 50 states. They will connect you to resources  such as education, health/mental care, housing, and employment.

Overwhelmed and feeling out of luck? Get Mentored. Connect yourself with someone who can “walk” with as you unlock all the doors to your success. This is hard stuff so don’t go it alone. The Second Chance Act(SCA) supports state, local, and tribal governments and nonprofit organizations. It was enacted to reduce your risk of returning to prison and help provide you a better life after incarceration.

The following are some of the programs this initiative provides grant funding for:

  • Adults with Co-Occurring Substance Use and Mental Disorders
  • Community-Based Mentoring and Transitional Services for Adults
  • Family-Based Substance Use Treatment

To get bonded you need a place of residence. With housing you must compete with citizens who don’t have a criminal record.

Some states allow Section 8 HUD housing for felons. If the crime was extremely violent, like rape or murder, you would not qualify. HUD housing can take years to become available so apply as soon as possible. You can get up to 70% off your housing.

HUD Housing grants are another option to consider. There are many private grant monies for housing that do not need to be repaid.

Catholic Charities USA also assists ex-offenders in getting housing. Some states have their own housing programs. For example, Washington State has a Reentry Housing Pilot Program (RHPP) for high-risk/high-need felons who are homeless.

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