Cosigning for a friend in trouble seems to be a good deed. After all, who doesn’t stand up for their friends and help them in times of crisis? While this may be suitable for most other circumstances, it is best to be careful when asked to sign a bail bond. A large sum of money may be involved, and you stand a risk of dealing with a fugitive who has run from the law. Here is what you need to know before you cosign a bail bond.
What is a Cosigner?
A cosigner signs the bail bond along with the person being bailed, and effectively agrees to guarantee that the person in question will show up at court proceedings. In case of absence of the person, he will be responsible for covering all charges associated with locating and transporting him back.
You Will Have to Pay If He Jumps
As a cosigner, you should know that if your friend makes a run for it, you will be the one who is forced to cover all costs for finding him. While the bondsman has posted the bail and has a contract with the court to guarantee the return of the individual, it is you who is under the obligation to ensure that this happens. The bondsman may have the legal responsibility, but the contract between him and you transfers the responsibility on your shoulders.
Your Property and Belongings May Be Seized
A bondsman is taught to evaluate a good cosigner by determining how deep rooted he is in the community which he lives. For example, having kids that attend school, a car on lease, or a house on mortgage all point towards a well settled family. They will also look for assets that can be liquidized in case bail is jumped. In other words, the new house or car may end up being sold to cover bail charges in case the person flees.
The Money You Pay Is Non Refundable
Whatever you pay to the bail agent is not refundable, even in case the person does show up at the court hearings. The bondsman will of course recover his bail money from the court, but you will not be refunded. Further, if you decide to post bail yourself, the money that is returned may take months to be back in your hands. Be careful before you put a large sum of money into a bail bond. It is not an investment, it is a security. You may end up losing all of it if the person takes flight.
Evaluate Your Liability
Depending on how well you know the person, evaluate whether he is a flight risk. Remember, you are liable for all the costs to locate and bring him back if you are a cosigner. If the person is reliable or a close family member, the only fees you will have to pay are the costs to the bondsman to secure the bail.
When Should You Sign?
If you know the person well, and he has a clean background, it is safe to be a cosigner. However, do not do so if you think that the individual is a significant flight risk.
Author Bio: Francis Chapman is a freelance writer for a small bail bonds Riverside company.