Your Role as a Bail Bond Co-Signer

At some point in our lives we all have known someone who has been to jail. Unfortunately, this sometimes can include our personal friends or family members. Nobody wants to see a loved one behind bars, and they will often do whatever they can to get that person out of jail quickly. One of the fastest ways to get someone out of jail is to get a bail bond for him or her. Bail bonds require the signature of someone other than the suspect, but a co-signer should know the facts behind this method of release before engaging in it.

What is an Indemnitor

A person who co-signs a bail bond is known as an indemnitor. Bail bondsmen can secure the release of prisoners through a promise to the courts that the bond will be fully paid if a suspect doesn’t show up for court. When co-signing for a bail bond a fee equal to 10% of the bond amount must be paid to the bail bondsman, but this is not where the indemnitor’s liabilities end.

Responsibilities of the Indemnitor
When an individual signs off on a bail bond, they have taken full responsibility for the suspect. An indemnitor is guaranteeing the bail bondsman that the suspect will show up for every court date they are assigned, until all court proceedings stemming from the charge have concluded. This can occur if charges are dropped, sentences are deferred, the accused is sentenced, or if the accused is returned to jail.

Risks for the Co-Signer
There are substantial risks to co-signing a bail bond. The 10% fee is not a risk the indemnitor is taking, due to the fact that the bail bondsman has earned this fee once the bond is posted. The indemnitor must also sign an agreement stating that if the suspect absconds from justice, they are liable for the full bond. This often requires pledging actual property (collateral), to ensure the bail bondsman will get their money they have pledged by way of a surety bond. If a suspect makes all court dates then this agreement is cancelled and only the 10% fee is incurred.

If a suspect absconds (flees), it is in the best interest of the indemnitor to get them back to court. Even if the suspect misses a few court dates the indemnitor is liable for failure to appear fees. These fees increase the longer a person is missing. If the time allotted by the court expires, then the bond may be forfeited and the indemnitor can be liable for the full bond; and may very well lose their pledged collateral.

In the end it is up to each individual to decide whether or not they feel comfortable co-signing a bail bond. Bail bonds will get an imprisoned inmate out of jail quickly, but they do carry risks for the indemnitor. Knowing all of the facts and rules of bail bonds is essential before undertaking this responsibility.

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