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 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.
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.
Before deciding on becoming a co-signer, there are three questions you should be asking yourself:
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.
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.
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.
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.
When you cosign a bail bond, you're agreeing to be held financially liable for paying the full amount of the defendant's bail should bail forfeiture occur. If your loved one misses a court appearance, commits another crime, or violates any other terms of his or her bail, and gets caught, the court will consider the bail bond forfeit. Ultimately, your loved one will be taken back into police custody, and you'll owe the court or the Bondsman the full amount of the original bail. This is not something you can get out of - you signed your name on the dotted line of a legally binding agreement. Unless you're supremely confident your loved one will adhere to the terms of his or her release, think long and hard before you cosign a bail bond.
When you visit a bond agent to secure a bail bond, you'll need to have enough money to pay the bail agent's fee. That fee is typically around 10% of the defendant's total bail amount. If the judge set bail at $10,000, you'll need to pay the bond agent $1,000 to get the process started. You will never get that money back. It's essentially a service fee for the bond agent's expertise, time, resources, assistance, and risk. Bail bonds are not a free service - agents have to put food on their tables too. If paying that fee will put you in a shaky financial position, cosigning a bail bond may not be in your best interest. While you no doubt want to help your loved one, it's never a smart idea to put yourself in a potentially precarious position to do so.
When a bond agent issues you a bail bond, they're taking on risk. And any time another party is taking on financial risk, they're going to want proof that you can repay any funds issued if things go south. They have to protect their interests. Depending on the bond company you choose to use, the agent may ask you for:
If you don't have the cash on hand to pay the bond agent's fee, or if you have some cash but not quite enough, the agent may ask for collateral in addition to the money. If you choose to provide collateral, you'll get it back at the conclusion of your loved one's case - provided he or she attends all required court dates. If, however, your loved one forfeits bail, you'll lose any collateral you provided. If you handed over the title to your vehicle, the deed to a property, a piece of expensive jewelry, or a family heirloom, you can kiss it goodbye if things go south.
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 bail bonds from scratch, please read our article Bail Bonds 101: The Beginners Guide.
We can help you learn more about bail bonds and co-signing. With licensed and experienced bail bondsmen available 24/7, we offer a fast and easy process that eliminates stress-causing delays. Call us at 855-644-BAIL (2245) today to get started.
If you're ready to cosign a bail bond for a loved one in jail, get in touch with our team at Big Dawgz Bail Bondz. When you need fast, professional, confidential bail bond assistance, we're here for you. To learn more or get started, give us a call today at (855) 644-BAIL (24/7 Toll Free) or (304) 308-8896 (Local Office). You can also send us a message with any questions, and we'll be in touch.
Big Dawgz Bail Bondz is a professional bail bonds agency with licensed bail bondsmen available 24 hours a day. Big Dawgz Bail Bondz offers fast and easy bail solutions to individuals in need of assistance.
We are here to help our clients with a simple and fast process that eliminates the headaches and delays usually associated with this stressful time. Our service only takes 30 - 60 minutes over the phone or in person and is available now. Follow our blog to learn more about all things bail bonds, or contact us today at (855) 644-BAIL to chat with an agent.