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Should I Act As A Surety?
Posted on October 21, 2020
When someone you know has been arrested, they will likely go before a judge for a bail hearing. Not everyone arrested with a crime is eligible for bail. However, if the judge believes the individual does not pose a threat to others or that they will not flee from justice, they will likely be eligible for bail. As part of a bail hearing, a judge or justice of the peace may want a surety in place to release the arrested person.
To ensure the bail hearing goes smoothly, it is beneficial to work with a bail lawyer who has extensive knowledge of how a bail hearing proceeds, what the bail conditions are, and how to negotiate terms of release. Experienced criminal defence lawyers will be able to prepare for a bail hearing and negotiate the ideal bail conditions and terms.
What is A Surety?
A surety is typically a friend, relative, or someone who has regular contact with the accused. The surety will promise the court they will be responsible for and look after the individual charged with a crime while they are out on bail. There are several qualifications, responsibilities, and things to consider when asked to be a surety.
The judge or justice of the peace will ultimately decide if you can act as a surety. They will examine specific aspects of the potential surety before deciding to move forward. For example, are you:
- Over The Age Of 18
- Involved In The Offence
- A Canadian Citizen Or Landed Immigrant
- Free Of A Criminal Record (Those With A Minor Or Old Offence May Still Be A Surety)
- Able To Monitor The Accused Person
- Able To Report A Breach If One Occurs
- Proven To Have Enough Money Or Assets To Cover Bail
Responsibilities Of A Surety
As a surety, you will have three primary responsibilities:
For those drivers who are found to be between 50-79 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood (.05-.079) an automatic suspension from driving will issue for a period of 3-days as a first-time offender and for 15-days and second-time offender.
- Ensure the accused appears at the correct date and on time for court appearances.
- Ensure the accused follows their bail conditions. Conditions can include things like reporting to the police regularly and a curfew. It can also include a weapons ban, no alcohol consumption or any other conditions the court sees fit at the time.
- As a surety, you must sign the recognizance and agree to pay a specified amount of money if the accused fails to obey their court orders.
- Contact the police if the accused person does not follow any of their bail conditions.
Things To Consider
Note that as a surety, you will be responsible until the case is completely over, which could take months or years. This can be a big undertaking. No matter how well you know someone, you need to give the decision careful and considerate thought. Before agreeing to be a surety for someone, make sure you consider the following items first.
The recognizance that you sign will put you on the line financially for your loved one. For more severe charges, the specified amount of money is quite substantial. As a surety, you’ll be responsible for paying if the accused fails to show up to court or abide by their bail conditions. You might have to put up property as collateral. If you are not overly confident in the person you’re bailing out, consider whether you’re the right choice to act as a surety.
As a surety, you will play a key role in supervising the accused, ensuring they meet their bail conditions, and that they appear in court on time. You must be sure that you have the time to do so properly.
If You Can't Meet Your Obligations
If you feel that you cannot fulfill all requirements alone, you can ask to have another person be the accused’s surety. As a surety, you may end your obligations if you feel you can no longer supervise the accused. You have two options on how to terminate your responsibility. One option is to bring the accused to court and ask to be relieved of your duties. If at any time you feel your safety is at threat, do not attempt to bring the accused person to court yourself.
If the first option is not possible, you may go to court and apply in writing to be relieved of your responsibilities. The court will then issue an arrest order for the accused person.
Still Have Questions?
If you are still unsure whether you should act a surety, you should seek legal advice before agreeing. A lawyer will explain all details needed so you can fully understand the situation at hand before committing. At Ross Lutz Barristers, our lawyers will provide a free initial consultation to learn more about your case. If you are looking for legal advice on a bail hearing, contact us today.