So you are asked to be a surety…

So you are asked to be a surety…

When a friend or family member is arrested, depending on the seriousness of what he/she is charged with, he/she may ask you to be a surety.

What is a surety?

  • A person who offers to sign someone out of jail and promises to the court to ensure that he/she follows the rules that the court sets.
  • This person has to “pledge” a certain amount of money that they could have to pay if the person breaks any of the rules.
  • The person is to remove themselves as a surety and/or call the police if any of the rules are broken.

Some things to know:

  • You will have to fill out an application to be a surety. On the application you will need to note your source of income, whether or not you have a criminal record, any assets etc. You should get independent legal advice before completing this form.
  • Your application has to be accepted by the court. The prosecutor will take a look at it and the police will ensure that the information you provided is true.

NOTE: In this jurisdiction any and all interactions with the police that you have had will be given to the prosecutor. This will not prevent your application from being accepted but it may seem like an invasion of privacy. (Which it is.)

  • If the prosecutor is arguing that the person should not be released on bail, you will have to take the stand and tell the court how you intend to supervise the person. The prosecutor also has an opportunity to question you on such matters as the strength of your relationship with the person, your knowledge of their criminal record, your ability to supervise etc. This can be an intimidating experience. You may want to ask a lawyer what questions to expect.
  • Even if the person who you are monitoring “breaks” the rules and you call the police, you are still “on the hook” so to speak until the person is found. This is to encourage persons to call the police right away.
  • You have to make sure that the person you are monitoring makes it to all their scheduled court appearances on time.
  • If you are accepted as a surety you will have to sign the person’s “Recognizance.” This is his/her release papers. You will be given a copy and it outlines the rules the person has to follow.
  • Your responsibility as surety does not end until the case is complete. If it is going to trial- this can take a long time.

Any comments or questions?

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