What It Means to Co-Sign A Bail Bond
Family members and close friends of an alleged criminal may be asked to co-sign a bail bond. The co-signed bail bond is an agreement between the co-signer, bail bondsman, and the individual under arrest. The co-signer assumes full responsibility for the defendant released from jail. A co-signer’s potential financial obligations remain in place until the case against the accused in closed.
The co-signer of the bail bond contract is often the same person who pays the bail bond company’s fees for service. Most bail bond firms charge 10 percent of the bail amount established by the court. The fee amount may vary depending upon state laws. Once the defendant is released, the bail bond fee is non-refundable.
The co-signer of bail bond promises the court that the accused will appear as required at court-scheduled hearing dates. If the accused skirts this responsibility, the bail bond firm pledges to the court that it will pay the bond in full if the defendant does not appear within the state-determined time period.
Co-Signer’s Miscellaneous Expenses
The co-signer is also financially responsible for other expenses if the accused does not fulfill his or her obligations. For instance, collect calls made from jail to the bond firm are charged to the co-signer. If the defendant remains at large, the bail bondsman may engage a bounty hunter and charge this expense to the co-signer. If settling the debt or court case spans more than 12 months, the bail bond firm may also charge the co-signed additional fees to extend the contract if state laws allow.
A co-signer’s responsibilities are outlined in the original contractual agreement with the bail bond firm. Although the co-signer might not anticipate the consequences of helping a friend or family member, the financial costs of co-signing the bail can have a lasting negative impact.
A co-signer may be able to demand reimbursement for expenses and fees related to the bail bond contract. Unfortunately, the accused’s financial situation may be poor. A law suit intended to recover these fees may fail.
The bail bond firm can decide to demand payment of the bond in full from the co-signer if the accused does not appear. This happens because the co-signer made a contractual agreement with the bail bondsman.
Liquidation of Collateral
If the accused is not returned to jail after a failure to appear in court, the bail bond company can decide to liquidate posted collateral assets of the co-signer. For instance, if the co-signer posted real estate as collateral, the bond firm will foreclose on the property. The real estate will then be sold to raise the money promised to the bail company.
A bail bond is not a regular consumer loan. The right to post bail is a Constitutional right. The alleged criminal’s failure to uphold his or her legal and financial responsibilities can be severe. Co-signers, as part of the process, also assume responsibilities for the accused.
The co-signer agrees to make sure that the defendant appears on his or her court appearance dates. If the accused does not appear, then the co-signer is held responsible for this failure. It is the co-signer’s responsibility to find the accused and bring him back to the court or pay the bond in full as a means to resolving the defendant’s missteps. The bail bond firm acted in good faith and performed promised services for the accused but must be paid in the event he or she skips bail.