Following an arrest in California, most detainees must post bail in order to be released from custody. Bail acts as a financial agreement between the courts and a defendant, where a defendant will pay a certain amount of money in return for being released from jail pending trial. As long as a defendant does not miss a court appearance or hearing, the money will be returned.
However, the high costs of bail means that most defendants will need to work with a bail bond agent who will post bail for them in return for a nonrefundable 10% premium. In addition, bail agencies will also want an assurance that the defendant will fulfill the terms of his or her release – and that is where a co-signer comes in.
What Is a Co-Signer?
A co-signer is an individual who shares legal responsibility for a bail bond. Sometimes referred to as an indemnitor, a co-signer has a legal obligation to ensure that the bail bond premium is paid in full, that the defendant appears at all court hearings, and also, must pay the full value of the bail bond if the bond becomes forfeit, such as by the defendant missing court appearances or attempting to jump bail.
When Are Co-Signers Necessary?
Most defendants will need a co-signer, as it guarantees to a bail bond agency that someone will be held responsible for getting a premium paid — or the full bond, if it becomes forfeited. Since co-signers have a vested interest in a defendant meeting the terms of his release, they will have an active role in making sure the defendant attends all court appearances and fulfills all court orders.
A co-signer will almost always be required to get bail if a defendant has a criminal record, poor credit history, and a history of bail jumping.
Requirements to Co-Sign Bail
Not everyone is fit to co-sign bail, and there are certain questions that need to be asked to ensure a person meets the requirements. What is the co-signer’s relationship with the defendant? Can they be trusted to ensure the defendant makes it to court? Are they responsible enough to fulfill the demands of paying the premium?
While most bail bond co-signers are friends or family members of the defendant, there is no requirement that the co-signer have a personal relationship with the defendant. Instead, most agencies will focus on the reliability of the co-signer and their financial capabilities. A bail bond agent wants to know that the person he or she is working with is financially responsible, and will favor individuals with:
- Good credit scores
- Reliable sources of income
- Strong job histories
A bail bond agency may also consider asking for collateral before posting bail. Collateral is a type of financial asset that a co-signer or defendant will “put up” to cover a portion or all of their bail, if they can’t pay it. Collateral can include a house, a vehicle, jewelry, or other assets. If bail becomes forfeited, these assets can be used to cover the full value of the bail bond. Collateral acts as another form of assurance that a co-signer will get a defendant to court while on bail.
Rights of Co-Signers
Co-signers have the right to set their own terms for co-signing a bail bond. They are taking on a large financial and legal risk by co-signing a bail bond and deserve their own assurances that a defendant will attend all court appearances. In addition to the court’s requirement for release, a co-signer can also require a defendant to attend:
- Drug or alcohol treatment
- Anger management classes
- Counseling for a mental health condition
- Group therapy
Co-signers also have the right to withdraw bail if they believe that a defendant will miss a court appearance or attempt to flee the state or country.
Why Work With Balboa Bail Bonds?
At Balboa Bail Bonds, we understand the responsibilities that co-signers face. We know you just want to get your loved one out of jail, but we also want you to be aware of your rights when co-signing bail. With every client, we offer transparency and open communication to ensure they can make fully informed decisions about co-signing bail.
If you have any questions about being a co-signer, reach out to our team at Balboa Bail Bonds. Each of our agents has more than five years of experience in the industry and an in-depth understanding of local courts in San Diego, Riverside, and Orange County. We are available 24/7, 365 days a year, ensuring that we are always able to answer our clients’ questions. We also hand-craft each payment plan to fit our clients’ situations and offer discounts for members of the military and their families. Call Balboa Bail Bonds at (619) 760-2222 to get affordable and fast bail.