Understanding Financing Terms

The 411 On Co-Signing On A Bail Bond

Whether a family member or a close friend got arrested, you will most likely want to do whatever you can to ensure they are released in a timely manner. Unfortunately, your family member or friend may not have the funds or ability to post bail for their own release. In these situations, you can co-sign for the person, which will make you responsible in many ways. If you are considering co-signing on a bail bond for a family member or friend, proper understanding is essential. Here are a few things you need to know about being a co-signer.

Co-Signing 101

One of the first things you should know is that co-signing on a bail bond is similar to co-signing for a loan. Basically, you are guaranteeing that you will be the responsible party for the other person's bond debt if something happens while they are out on bail.

For example, a bondsman will pay the entire bail amount, which could range from $500 for a non-violent misdemeanor, to much higher amounts depending on the crime. If your family member or friend does not have the bail amount, they would pay a percentage down to the bond company. As long as your family member or friend attends all the scheduled court hearings, no more money will be necessary.

However, if the defendant does not show up to court, or skips bail, the bondsman will attempt to collect the total bail amount from the defendant or from the co-signer, which would be you.

Reasons for Co-Signing

In most cases, a co-signer is needed if a person is unable pay the percentage down on a bail bond. Also, if the person does not have any assets, such as real estate, jewelry, electronics, equipment, or vehicles, to use as collateral, the bond company will require someone to co-sign on the bond.

Responsibilities of a Co-Signer

Once you know the reasons for co-signing and if a co-signer is really necessary, you need to understand your responsibilities in certain situations. Again, if the person attends their court dates and remains out of legal trouble, you do not need to worry. Unfortunately, if the person you co-signed for skips bail, your role as a co-signer will lead to some serious problems.

The bond company will attempt to collect the full bond amount. This attempt to collect the money will start with the defendant who skipped bail. This can be difficult, especially if the defendant you signed for has left town in an attempt to hide from not only the law but also the bondsman.

Because you will be held responsible for the money if the defendant is not found, it is smart to keep tabs on the defendant once you co-sign for them on the bail bond. Do not try to hide or cover for the defendant, since the bond company will come after you for the full bail bond amount. Work with the bond company to find the defendant, so you can avoid paying the bond amount or losing the assets you put up as collateral.

Co-signing on a person's bail bond, whether they are a family member or friend, has risks. Therefore, you should consider all the possibilities and risks before signing your name or placing your assets up as collateral.

Another thing you need to know is that although you will be held responsible financially for the person who skipped bail, you will not be held legally responsible for their crime. Even though the person skipped out on their bail, you have not committed a crime, so you will not need to do any time in jail.

Proper thought and a great deal of consideration are essential if you are going to co-sign for someone's bail bond. This guide will help you understand the responsibilities of a co-signer. Speak to a bail bondsman to learn more.