To co-sign, or not to co-sign, that is the question. It is a terrible feeling when you get that call at 2 o’clock in the morning from a loved one who just got booked into jail. Your first reaction might be to panic as a hundred questions flood through your mind. Your loved one may be telling you to call a bondsman right away. Before you commit to it though, you should know that co-signing on a bond is no small favor. It is critical that you understand your rights and responsibilities as a cosigner. Here are some things about co-signing that you need to know:
1. You are guaranteeing that the defendant will appear for court. When someone co-signs on a car loan, they are agreeing to make the car payments, if the primary borrower does not. By co-signing on a bond, you are agreeing to help make sure the defendant goes to court and to cover any expenses associated if they do not. This would include, for example, the cost of bounty hunters, or travel expenses if the defendant has left the area. If there is a forfeiture, you are responsible for the full amount of the forfeiture.
2. You remain the co-signer as long as the bond is in place. Some cases are resolved in one or two court dates, others may take one or two years to resolve. As long as the bond is in place, you remain the cosigner on the bond. You can’t just call the bondsman and “get off the bond”. While you can request that you be removed as a cosigner, the defendant must be back in jail and the bond exonerated before that can happen.
3. You are agreeing to pay for the services of the bondsman. Co-signers sometimes have the option to either pay the bondsman upfront or arrange a payment plan. When you agree to a payment plan, you are assuming responsibility for those payments. You may have an agreement with the defendant that they will make the payments, but just like the car loan, if they don’t, you will have to.
4. If the bond goes over a year, additional premium will be due. A bail bond is like an insurance policy, guaranteeing that the defendant will go to all of his court dates. Bonds are valid for one year. Just like the insurance on a car, the bond must be renewed if it is going to go past its expiration date. While most bonds do not go over a year, If this happens, additional premium will be due.
5. The premium paid for a bond is non-refundable. Once a bond is posted with the court, the premium charged is non-refundable. If the bondsman is unable to post the bond for some reason, the premium you have paid should be refunded.
6. You must make sure the bondsman has your contact information. It is important that the bondsman maintains a good phone number and address for both you and the defendant while they are on bond.
7. Read the contract and talk to your bondsman. Communication is critical. It is important that you understand all of the terms and expectations of a cosigner. If you have any questions, take the time to discuss it with your bondsman before you sign the contract.
Co-signing on a bond is a big decision. By co-signing you are helping to facilitate your loved ones release from jail. If you have concerns about them not going back to court, or leaving you with financial obligations, it is important to discuss this decision before you commit. If you have questions about the bond process, check out this page.
At Rodney’s Bail Bonds, our agents are happy to walk you through each step and answer any questions you might have. Please don’t hesitate to contact us. If you do decide to co-sign, we will work quickly and diligently to get your loved one out of jail as quickly as possible. We understand that people make mistakes, and we are not here to judge guilt or innocence.