Co-signing Bail Bonds: Everything You Need to Know

Co-signing Bail Bonds: Everything You Need to Know

No one wants to see someone they care about go to jail. By becoming a co-signer, you can assist your friend, loved one, or relative during their court process and get them out of jail as soon as possible. In fact, a co-signer is mandatory in order to guarantee the bail bond, and your help could be instrumental in the defendant’s release.

So, whether you are planning to co-sign a bail bond or require someone to co-sign for you, this article is here to help you understand the whole process from start to finish and help you to make your decision – fast.

When a loved one is arrested, we do our best to help them any way we can.

WHAT IS A CO-SIGNER?

When it comes to the judicial system, bail is the money or property, which is deposited to a court in return for the defendant’s release before a trial is held. If this defendant doesn’t attend court on their set date, the bail is taken by the courts as a penalty. However, if the defendant attends their appearances, then the bail is refunded to the person who posted it, no matter if the defendant is found guilty or not at the conclusion of the case. In a sense, the money is held in trust by the courts that the defendant will show up. Once the trial is over, sometimes fines are deducted from this bail money before it’s returned.

A co-signer is required during the process of bail to guarantee that the defendant (your relative or friend), will attend their scheduled court date and pay fines when summoned to do so. A co-signer vouches for the defendant and ensures they have support on the outside in getting back on track and to trial.

This co-signer can theoretically be anyone who knows the defendant. The stronger the relationship, the more likely the bail bondsman will be inclined to accept the co-signer. Family members, spouses, co-workers, and long-term friends are usually a good bet. If you reside in a different state to the defendant, it may still be possible to co-sign; however, it does vary between states. Talking to a local bail bondsman can help to answer any of your questions should you not be in the same state as the defendant.

QUALIFICATIONS OF A GOOD CO-SIGNER

Before deciding on becoming a co-signer, there are three questions you should be asking yourself:

1. Do I have a good credit history?

If you have a good credit history, can make regular payments if needed, and have some savings, collateral or property, then you will make a good co-signer, as you’ll have some financial backing should you need to pay the bond money.

2. Do I have a good job history?

If you have been in the same job for some time and get a regular paycheck, you (and the bail bondsman) can feel secure that you will be able to pay for the bail amount should the defendant breach their bail terms. It also shows the courts that you are a reliable citizen.

3. Am I responsible?

Co-signing a bail bond comes with some responsibility. If these responsibilities are not met, you will need to deal with the consequences outlined in the bail agreement. You’ll have to be accountable for the defendant showing up to court for scheduled appearances until their trial is over.

What are a Co-Signer's Responsibilities?

As a co-signer, you are responsible for the defendant and the amount of the bail. Becoming a co-signer means you are signing a contract as the liable party for the defendant. If there is more than one co-signer, both are responsible. You will have two main responsibilities to your name.

The first responsibility is getting your loved one to court at the scheduled time. If they fail to show up, the courts or bail bondsman will be seeking you to pay the bail amount, so it’s in your best interest to ensure this doesn’t happen.

The second responsibility is paying the bond premium. This is a percentage of the full bail amount, which the bail bondsman charges for the service of fronting the bail money for the defendant. This must be paid, or a payment arrangement made, prior to the bail being posted.

It’s also important to point out that if the defendant does skip bail, the bail bondsman may charge a recovery fee in order to find them and return them to jail. This fee may fall to you as the co-signer.

Understanding your rights as a co-signer will protect you throughout the process.

What are the Rights of the Co-Signer?

When you co-sign a bail agreement, it’s important that you know your rights, too. First of all, you have the right not to be co-signer. You should only enter a legal agreement such as this if you fully understand that you will be responsible to pay for the full amount of the bail bond if the defendant doesn’t show up to court or if they violate a condition of their bail.

You’ll also have the right to revoke the bail bond once you have co-signed. If you feel as though the defendant will not appear in court, you can get in touch with the bail bondsman or courts and advise them of your concern and your desire to terminate the agreement. This means the defendant will be taken back to jail until their court hearing and the agreement cancelled.

THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE CO-SIGNING A BAIL BOND

When debating whether or not to co-sign a bail bond for someone, we recommend you consider four main things:

1. The Defendant: Who are you co-signing for?

We understand that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and that good people can find themselves in unexpected situations. You’ll need to consider how close you are to the person asking you to co-sign, how responsible they are, if you can trust them, and if they are likely to skip their bail or not. If you feel they are reliable and you know them very well, you can consider co-singing for them.

2. Documentation: Do you know what you’re getting into?

Read your documentation and understand it well. If you have any questions at the time of co-signing, ensure you ask the bail bondsman upfront to clarify. You must understand your responsibilities before entering into this legal agreement.

3. Personal Responsibility: Can you help?

It’s a big personal responsibility to co-sign for a bail bond. If you are able to do so, then you’ll be truly helping the accused person in your life get out of a tough spot in their life. You can ensure the defendant doesn’t skip bail by spending extra time with them before trial, keeping them away from bad influences, and creating a positive atmosphere around them whilst they await trial.

4. Financial liabilities

If the defendant skips out on their bail and becomes uncontactable, the bail is up. This means that the court will call on the bail amount to be paid, which will fall onto the person who co-signed the bail bond – that means you.

Co-signing a bail bond means taking on big responsibilities.

THE PROS & CONS OF BEING A CO-SIGNER

Being a co-signer means you are helping to ensure your loved one doesn’t have to spend time behind bars whilst they are awaiting a court hearing. They are free in the outside world and you can spend time with them during this period.

Of course, there is also the risk that the person who is on bail may skip their bail, which means they violate the terms of the bail agreement. This may mean that they leave the area they are dictated to stay in, go missing, or breach another condition within their bail terms.

However, if all goes to plan and your loved one does not skip bail, then your funds and property will not be taken from you. Likewise, if the defendant skips bail but is located and returned back to jail in a timely manner, the bail will not be called by the courts. However, if they cannot be located, then any money or property posted as collateral for the bail bond will be collected by the bail bondsman. This is why it’s very important to think through the decision to co-sign before agreeing to do so.

If your family member or close friend turns to you in a time of need and you feel you can trust that they will show up to court and also pay back your bondsman if needed, then this would be considered a low-risk situation that you can easily help them out with. However, you must also consider the likelihood that they will skip their bail and leave you to foot the bill.

WORK WITH AN EXPERIENCED BONDSMAN IN CALIFORNIA

It’s important in any situation where a family member or friend is arrested to work with an experienced bail bondsman who can guide you through the process of co-signing and help you weigh up the benefits and risks for your particular situation. Every single situation is different; therefore, getting advice from an experienced bondsman is vital.

Even if you’re not sure about co-signing, a bondsman can help answer any questions and explain realistically what the process is for you. If you’d like to find out more information about the basics of bails bonds from scratch, please read our article Bail Bonds 101: The Essential Guide.

We can help you learn more about bail bonds and co-signing in California, specifically in Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, Ventura County, San Diego County, and San Bernardino County. With licensed and experienced bail bondsmen available 24/7, we offer a fast and easy process that eliminates stress-causing delays. Call us at 800-880-8380 today to get started.

Work with a bail bondsman for expert advice and guidance regarding the release of your loved one.