Are you being asked by a friend or family member to help get them out of jail with a bail bond, but it requires you to be the cosigner on it? If so, you likely have a lot of questions about what your risks are as the cosigner so that you can be well prepared for the potential consequences.
How Long Are You Responsible For?
While the purpose of using a bail bond is to get someone out of jail early while they wait for their court date, your responsibilities as a cosigner go far beyond that. Not only do they need to show up for their initial court date, but the bail bond will be held until the trial is completely over, which could take months or years in some situations. When the trial finally concludes the court system takes over the custody of the person on trial, and if they are sentenced to jail or set free, the bail money will be released back to the bondsman.
Be prepared for how long this may take, since you need to stay on top of your loved one to ensure that they are staying within the rules of the bail agreement. Even if they start the process by showing up to court, if they suddenly decide to skip town, you would be on the hook with the bondsman.
What Happens If Bail Is Violated?
There are clear consequences to the defendant if they violate the terms of their bail, which involves having their bail revoked and the forfeiture of the money that was provided to the court. The process is pretty clear based on the terms.
However, forfeiture of the bail money does not automatically happen. When working with a bail bondsman, they will be notified of the bail being revoked and the bondsman will have a grace period where they can bring the defendant in to avoid losing the bail money. This is necessary in situations where a defendant didn't purposely violate the terms of their bail, such as if a sudden illness caused someone to miss their court date.
If the defendant has intentionally violated bail and cannot be brought back to jail in a timely manner, then you will lose any collateral provided as part of the bail bond process. It's possible that returning the defendant to jail later would not result in the bail money being reinstated and being on good terms with the bondsman.
Contact a bail bonds agent to learn more.