Infographic: Being a surety

Click on the image for a PDF version of the infographic
Text by Josephine Li
Design by Elliot Carol Chow

Courts are overwhelmed by the number of people in custody. Often, bail is only granted when excessive conditions are met. This delays hearings unnecessarily. And, often, the conditions have nothing to do with ensuring someone’s appearance in court or protecting the public.

One of the most common required conditions is having a surety to sign bail.

What is a surety?

  • A surety is a person who comes to court and promises to supervise an accused person while they are out on bail.
  • A surety also promises an amount of money to the court if the accused doesn’t follow one or more of the bail conditions or doesn’t show up to court when required.
  • If you don’t have the money or social support to find a surety, you’re more likely to find yourself in staying in jail until trial.

If you’re a surety

  • You may be asked to testify in court about your ability to supervise the accused.
  • You will need to show the court that you’re “good” for the amount of the bail. This can include real estate in your name, bank accounts and investments.
  • If the accused doesn’t follow his or her bail conditions, it’s your job to call the police—and you may have to pay the court the money you promised when you agreed to be a surety.
  • You can stop being a surety at any time by going to the courthouse and asking to be removed as surety. The accused will then go back to jail or a warrant will be issued for their arrest.

For more information

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