What is a surety?
A surety is a person who will put a deposit up in the form of either cash or money to secure the release of an accused out on bail. Once the accused is released, the surety will be deemed responsible for the accused while they are out on bail.
If you are considering acting as a surety, you will have to ensure the court that you will make sure that the accused comes to court as required, and that you will see to it that the accused obeys all of the conditions of his or her release. For example, you will have to make sure the accused person does not drink alcohol or consume drugs, that the accused person obeys his or her curfew, and that the accused does not come into contact with the victims of his or her crime.
Who can be a surety?
In order to be a surety you need to be:
- An adult
- A Canadian citizen or a permanent resident
- Have no criminal record. If you do have a criminal record it should only be for very minor offences or for very dated offences
- Someone with sufficient funds or assets to cover the bail
- Capable of monitoring the accused while he or she is on release
Whether you can act as a surety for someone who is going to be released on bail is not your choice alone. Rather, it is an application that will need to be made before the court, ideally with the assistance of a criminal defence lawyer who can help ensure that you are presented as an appropriate fit to the court, and who can help ensure that the accused is released on bail.
When considering whether someone should be a surety for an accused on bail, the court will consider the factors listed above. The court will largely be looking for someone who is a trustworthy and upstanding citizen, particularly since you will be obligated to call the police if the person on bail violates the conditions of his or her release. Further, the court will be looking for someone who has a schedule that will allow them to properly monitor the accused and ensure that he or she is respecting curfew, or is remaining within the boundaries of his or her house arrest if required. In order to demonstrate your fitness to be a surety, a criminal defence lawyer can make submissions on your behalf. However, you should be prepared to testify before the court as the judge or justice may want to ask you questions about your background, character and finances. This being said, in order to be a surety, you will also have to ensure that you can be present at the accused’s bail hearing.
Importantly, if you are going to act as a surety, you will also have to pledge funds or property to the court in order to secure the release of the accused. If you do not have the actual amount of bail available to you in the form of money, you can also put your property such as real estate or a vehicle to cover the posted bail. However, be warned that if the accused breaches the conditions of his or her bail, you will lose that money.
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