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.