Imagine receiving that dreaded late night phone call. A friend, or loved one has been arrested by the Wake County Sherriff’s Department and they desperately need YOUR help getting out of jail. Perhaps it’s a family member, coworker, or friend of the family to whom you feel a strong sense of obligation.
Maybe it’s an essential employee, or a key business partner on whom your livelihood partly depends. Just as you accept that you won’t be getting any more sleep tonight he or she says the most dreaded words, “I need you to co-sign for the bond”.
Coughing up a few dollars for a friend in jail is one thing; entering into a binding contractual agreement is quite different. If you’ve never done this before you may have more questions than answers. While we can’t make this difficult choice for you, we can provide you with the information to help you make a more informed decision.
What Is A Cosigner On A Bail Bond?
It’s a standard industry practice for bondspersons to require a third party cosigner on every application for bail. The use of the term “third party” simply refers to the fact that the cosigner MAY NOT be the defendant (first party), and MAY NOT be the bail agency (second party). A cosigner is one who enters into a contractual agreement, known as an Indemnity Agreement, which obligates them for the full amount of the bail should the bond be forfeited as a result of the defendant failing to appear in court.
What Are A Cosigner’s Obligations?
The cosigner bears witness to the truthfulness of the information provided by the defendant about him or herself. They also accept contractual responsibility and agree to indemnify the bail bond company for the penalty resulting in a defendant’s failure to appear in court. Due to the high degree of trust imparted in the defendant by the cosigner, and to protect the interest of all parties, the bail bond company normally requires the cosigner to be someone close in relation to the defendant, of appropriate age, and financial solvency.
So let’s get back to our scenario. How might cosigning the bail bond for your friend impact you? Consider the following:
Things To Know Before Cosigning A Bail Bond
- Your Credit May Be Affected
- While it is not our practice at Case Closed Bail Bonds some bail agencies do make credit inquiries in determining the suitability of prospective cosigners. Read the contract carefully and know the terms. If it is unclear whether they use credit rating factors ask directly and request the same it writing. Failure to honor your obligation as cosigner in the event of bond forfeiture may also result in the bail bond company taking legal action against you that could adversely affect your credit rating.
- The Contract Is Binding Until The Case Is Fully Disposed
- A common misconception is that the bail bond is only in force until the first court appearance. The truth is the bond is effective and binding throughout all stages of the proceedings in the trial divisions of the General Court of Justice until entry of judgment in district court where no appeal is taken, or until the entry of judgment in superior court. In other words, as cosigner, you’re on the hook until the courts rule guilty, not guilty, or dismissed, which could take days, weeks, months or years. Strongly consider how well you know the defendant before making this type of potentially long-term commitment.
- The Indemnity Agreement Is Enforceable In Court
- In addition to adverse credit actions, forfeited bail bond contracts can land cosigners on the wrong side of a civil suit. Outstanding civil judgments against cosigners resulting from defaulted bail bond contracts can negatively impact employment, complicate renewing certain professional licenses, result in seized personal property, and can even eventually become a lien against real property.
- Keep Records
- Don’t rely on your memory for remembering the terms. You’re entitled to receive a copy of everything you sign. Make sure that you request a copy for your records if one is not provided to you.
Cosigning for a friend or loved one is a responsibility that should be taken seriously. It should only be done after careful consideration of your relationship to the defendant, the defendant’s level of responsibility, and your ability to fulfill your obligations under the agreement.
Do you have a friend or loved one in jail who needs a cosigner? Contact Case Closed Bail Bonds Today! We serve Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill 24/7 and the entire State of North Carolina by appointment. We can help you arrange bail or simply answer questions.
For an overview of the bail process check out our previous blog post How Do Bail Bonds Work or History of The Modern Bail System in the US.