Home Blog Bail Bonds What Happens if You Co-Sign a Bail Bond and Don’t Pay: Explained Post Image

December 1, 2023  |  Posted by jesse  |  Bail Bonds

There are many instances when cosigning a bail bond is a good idea. More often than not it’s to help someone you know in a very difficult situation. What happens if you co-sign a bail bond and don’t pay? At Balboa Bail Bonds we’ve worked with hundreds of clients who have co-signed a bond on someone else’s behalf, so we’re perfectly placed to explain what happens when the cosigner doesn’t pay up. 

What does it mean if you co-sign a bail bond?

Firstly, what is a bail bond

As a brief overview, a bail bond is a legally binding agreement between a convicted individual, a bail bond agency, and the court. When someone gets arrested in the state of California, they can be released on bail. This is an amount of money determined by the severity of their alleged crime. Sometimes, people can’t afford to pay the full cost of bail, so they obtain a bail bond. Here, a bail bond agency requests a fee and covers the remaining cost of bail. The terms and conditions of the bond state that the arrested individual will be released from custody and must attend all court appearances until the trial concludes. 

However, there are numerous cases when a defendant can’t afford bail. They’re unable to pay the full amount and don’t have enough money to cover a bail bond agency’s fee. In this scenario, someone can co-sign the bond and take full financial responsibility for it. 

If you’re a cosigner, you pay the bail bond agency’s fee and become responsible for the defendant. You’re in charge of making them go to court and adhere to all the bond conditions. You also take on all the financial obligations for the bond. In essence, if the defendant violates the terms of the agreement, you will be required to pay the bail amount on their behalf. This is either done through money or by using assets as collateral when cosigning. 

What are the consequences of not paying as a cosigner?

So, what happens if you co-sign a bail bond and don’t pay? Needless to say, the consequences can be rather drastic and damaging. 

From a legal standpoint, you’ve signed a contract and agreed to perform specific financial obligations. If you fail to do this, the bail bond agency can file a lawsuit against you to obtain all the monies owed

Should you fail to comply or respond to any contacts relating to payments, the bail bond agency is legally entitled to use whatever you put up as collateral to get what they owe. 

Moreover, there are credit consequences to worry about as well. In some circumstances, unpaid bail can be reported to credit agencies who decide your credit score. Therefore, your score will be negatively impacted, which has a knock-on effect on other aspects of your life. For example, if you needed a home loan to pay for repairs, or a mortgage loan to buy a house, it may be harder to get either because you have a black mark on your credit report

To summarize: you will need to pay what you owe the bail bond agency. If you don’t do this of your own accord, they can use the legal system to demand payment from you. 

Is it possible to avoid paying the full bail amount as a cosigned?

Absolutely – you will only need to pay the full bail bond amount if the defendant violates the bond terms and conditions. If they attend all court appearances, you won’t have to pay anything as the bail amount is returned from the court to the bail bond agency. Here, you only need to pay the fee – which is about 10% of bail. 

Furthermore, there is a slim chance to avoid paying the full amount when a defendant tries to skip bail. You are responsible for their actions, so you can notify the court or your bail bond agency when you suspect they’re trying to flee. This allows the court to issue an arrest warrant and track the person down so they’re detained again. 

When this happens, the cosigner can cancel the bond and get their money back. It will also mean the bail bond agency gets their money back from the court as the defendant is back in custody. There’s a high chance the defendant will face extra charges and may have no bond available, meaning they will remain detained. 

You can minimize the risks of the defendant fleeing and leaving you in this situation by remaining in close contact with them. Ensure you message them regularly and remind them about court dates. You could even take them to court yourself to be 100% sure they’re attending. 

Who can cosign for a bail bond?

Technically, anyone can cosign for a bail bond as long as they know the individual in custody. As long as you’re financially capable of handling the bond fee, you can co-sign and help someone out. 

With that being said, you should think clearly about this decision. You inherit lots of responsibilities and obligations that can bite you if things go wrong. Consider who you are cosigning for and whether you trust them to fulfill the terms of the bond agreement. Are they likely to flee or miss court appearances? If so, it is perhaps not worth the financial risk. 

Likewise, if you’re not in a stable position financially, can you afford to put your house or car up as collateral? Are you worried about the credit risk of cosigning? Only do it if you’re aware of the risks and don’t believe your life will be that badly affected in the worst-case scenario. 

Learn more about bail bond cosigning today! 

Are you interested in cosigning a bail bond for someone you care about? Contact Balboa Bail Bonds today and we’ll assess the situation and get everything ready for you to sign. 


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