When someone applies for bail for a criminal charge, the court might ask them to find someone else to be their surety. A surety agrees to pay an amount of money to the court if the accused person doesn’t show up for their next court hearing.
If you go surety for someone, you will need to sign a written agreement called a surety undertaking. If the person doesn’t show up to court, you will normally have to pay the amount that you agreed to the court.
If you want to be a surety, you must have enough property or assets to cover the amount of the surety.
- whether you might be suitable
- what assets you can use
- how you can withdraw your surety if you change your mind, and
- what the risks are of agreeing to be a surety.
Can I be a surety?
To be a surety you must at least 18 years of age and have ID. You also need to show that you have enough property to cover the amount. Your criminal record, relationship with the person and your own finances will also be looked at.
What assets can I use to be a surety?
Houses, land and property can be used. Cars, furniture and your personal belongings can sometimes be used. You will need to show proof of what you own.
Who can approve my surety application?
Justices of the peace, magistrates, some registrars and some police officers can approve your surety application.
Can I withdraw as a surety?
If you want to cancel your surety for any reason you can apply to the court. It is up to the court to decide if you can do this.
What are the risks of going surety?
If the person you go surety for doesn’t turn up to court you could lose the money you agreed to pay. If you change your mind after you have agreed to go surety the court might not let you withdraw.
Reviewed: 11 April 2018
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