What to Know Before Cosigning a Bail BondA friend or family member needs you to cosign a bail bond. Of course, you want to get them out of jail fast. But what does that actually mean for you? If you cosign a bail bond, it’s a real responsibility. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Would a Bond Need a Cosigner?

Multiple people need to guarantee the bond. When a bond is placed, the bail bondsman puts up a “bond” for a small fee. This bond represents the entirety of the bail money. If the individual being bailed out doesn’t go to court, the entirety of that money becomes due — and it’s the bondsman’s job to collect on that money.

So let’s say your brother needs to be bailed out, and his bail is $5,000. You can pay a bond fee that is a fraction of that to bond him out, but you need to cosign on the bond. If your brother doesn’t go to court, you (and he) both become liable for that $5,000, and it can be collected from you.

There’s really no way to avoid cosigning a bond because of the way bonds work. But different people can be cosigners, depending on who feels most comfortable with the process.

What If My Friend or Family Member Can’t Make It to Court?

Courts can be lenient.

If you have a reason to miss court (such as a medical issue or even legal issues in another jurisdiction), you can call both the courts and your bondsman and explain. Usually, the courts will simply reschedule, and you should always tell your bonding company if you are experiencing issues so they can prepare themselves.

But if your friend or family member just doesn’t go to court and doesn’t notify anyone, their bond will be called. You will need to pay the debt. Additionally, a bench warrant is going to be put out for their arrest by the judge. They will be arrested if a police officer finds them. And while they can turn themselves in, the bond will already have been pulled. This is not like with bail, which is given back to you if you actually attend court.

So the best thing to do is to go to court!

Can You Bond Someone Out Without a Cosigner?

In general, no. 

A cosigner is necessary for the bonding company to have the hope of collecting the amount that is due to them. After all, if a friend or family member doesn’t go to court, they are then “on the run.” They are evading arrest because of the bench warrant, so it’s very unlikely that the bonding company will be able to get their money back through them. Additionally, if they have been in jail for any amount of time, they may not have work with which to pay back the bail bond.

Sometimes both a cosigner and collateral are necessary. If the bonding amount is particularly high, a cosigner alone may not be enough. A car or house lien might be required to ensure that the bond will get paid. This is usually only the case with particularly significant bond amounts.

Does any of this mean that you shouldn’t cosign a bail bond? Realistically, there are situations in which it’s unavoidable. If you’re trying to get a loved one out of jail, cosigning a bond is very likely to be the only way you can do so. But you should do so with the full knowledge that you’re taking on a risk, and you should consider just how likely they are to actually go to their court dates. If you need a bail bond to get your friend or loved one out of jail, contact A Right Choice Bail Bonds today.

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