Co-signing is common practice here in America, presumably, we are all relatively familiar with the typical forms of co-signing in the form of car loans, home mortgages, student loans, as well as co-signing on personal and business loans. The other most common type of lending is with bail bonds. Co-signing on a bail bond agreement is perhaps even more common than the arrestee (defendant) themselves entering into a bond agreement. In dire times, this helpful (yet risky) practice is typically seen as an act of loyalty, trust, love, or support. Unfortunately, many people who get into these dicey co-lending agreements haven’t seriously assessed the risks and potential outcomes that could arise from loaning large sums of money to a loved one. So, what exactly is written in the fine print of a bail bond agreement, what potentialities are you entering into by co-signing a bond agreement, and what are your ensuing options?
Read The Fine Print
The bond agreement between you (the co-signer) and the bail bondsman or bail bond agency entails you signing a promissory note or an “indemnity agreement” which financially obligates you to pay the full amount of the bond if the accused person does not appear in court. Upon entering into this agreement, and co-signing the paperwork, he or she accused will be released from jail. This release is solely dependant and conditional on the pending resolution of the charges against him or her by a court of law. The bail bond financial commitment is essentially collateral holding the arrestee accountable to appear at all of their court hearings, arraignments, and proceedings. It acts as insurance for the bail bonds company so that they aren’t stuck with the full bond amount if the arrestee skips town or decides not to show up for their court dates.
As a co-signer, you assume the responsibility of ensuring the defendant you signed for makes all of their court appearances. If they fail to do so, the financial burden is put on you.
Assuming Financial Responsibility
Typically, the co-signing agreement involves pledging some sort of tangible property, be it cash, a home, vehicles, and other such high-value items. This collateral ensures that the bail bondsman will receive back all the money that he or she has pledged with a surety bond to the court. The risky aspect of this agreement is that If the accused does end up fleeing, leaving town or the country, or can’t be found, then, unfortunately, as the co-signer, you are obligated to either pay the entire bond or surrender the property that was pledged to the bail bond company for collateral. This is where bounty hunters come into play, to find the arrestee and bring them into court so that everyone involved can keep their property. If the defendant cannot be found and taken to court within a certain amount of time, then the financial responsibility remains entrusted with the co-signer.
Can A Co-Signer Be Removed From A Bail Bond?
Yes, as a co-signer, you can talk to the bail bond agency you signed with if at any point in the process you have cause to feel as though the defendant will not keep their commitments to their court obligations. You can choose to opt-out of the bond, which will relieve yourself of any financial or criminal obligations relating to the case.
When a friend or a loved one comes to you and asks you to be a co-signer, whether it’s for purchasing a home, buying a new car, or bailing them out of jail, they are unknowingly putting a huge responsibility on your shoulders and allowing for the potential that this exchange could very well ruin whatever form of relationship you have. Make sure you fully understand what kind of agreement you are entering into before assuming financial and physical responsibility for your friend or loved one.