Did you recently learn about a loved one’s arrest? In most cases, the judge sets the bail within 48 hours of the defendant’s arrest. Knowing the full bail amount means it’s easier to get your relative or friend out of jail by paying the court in cash or property.
But what happens if you don’t have valuable property or enough cash in hand? Does it mean the defendant will stay in jail until the case closes? Thankfully, no. You can get the services of local bondsmen in your area to secure their release. But you’ll need to co-sign the bail bond.
Coughing up a few dollars is one thing, but entering a binding contractual agreement is a serious commitment. If you haven’t been in this situation before, you might have many questions in your mind. While we can’t make this tough choice for you, we have compiled a primer comprising all the information you need to help you make an informed decision.
What Does Co-Signing a Bail Bond Entail?
Co-signing bail bonds means signing an indemnity agreement or a promissory note that financially obligates them to pay the full bond amount if the accused person fails to appear in court without prior notice. The accused will be released from jail as soon as the bail bond has been co-signed till the charges against them are resolved by a court of law.
Who Can be a Co-Signer?
‘Co-signer’ means that a defendant can sign a bail bond on their own. However, every bail bond requires three party’s signatures: the agent, the defendant, and the co-signer. Friends, family, or anyone close to the defendant can be a third-part co-signer.
Things to Know Before Co-Signing Bail Bonds
#1- You’re Signing a Legally Binding Financial Contract
If the defender’s bail gets forfeited, co-signing a bail bond will make you financially liable for paying the full amount. If the person you’ve co-signed the bail bond for commits another crime, misses a court appearance, or gets caught violating any other terms on their bail, it can lead to the court considering a bail bond forfeit. The person will ultimately be taken back into police custody, and you’ll own the original bail’s full amount to the court. Once you sign the name on the dotted line of the financial agreement, you’re legally bound to adhere to the conditions and the consequences.
#2- Bail Bonds Come with a Nominal Fee
Bail bond agencies require a certain fee for their services, typically around 10% of the defendant’s total bail amount, but can vary, depending on several factors. You’ll need to pay the bond agent to get the process started. While you won’t get this money back, the amount is essentially paid for their services, resources, experience, time, risk, assistance, and expertise.
#3- You’ll Need to prove You’re a Reliable Candidate for Co-Signing
Bond agents are taking on significant risks when issuing a bail bond. Any party taking on financial risk will require proof that funds will be repaid if things go south. Co-signers, as with any legal contract, will need to show proof of financial capability, employment, residency, and more, depending on the bond company you choose and the state laws regarding bail bonds.