Bailing Out A Friend Or Relative: The Basics

When a friend or relative is charged with a serious crime and taken into custody, they may ask you to sign a document with a bail bond firm guaranteeing their appearance in court. Before you make any decision on whether to do this, it's important to consider all of the ramifications. The following article takes a close look at this issue.

The Process

When you guarantee the court appearance of someone charged with a crime, you sign a document in which you agree to be responsible for the entire amount of that individual's bail. Generally, this means that you put up some sort of collateral, such as the title to a vehicle. If your friend or relative makes their court date, the hold on your collateral is lifted. When the person does not make the court date, you will typically lose your collateral unless there is some extenuating circumstance.

Anyone who cosigns a bail bond agreement for another person should always inform the bond company immediately if the individual out on bond cannot appear in court due to illness, an accident or some other circumstance.

You will also need to pay a premium to the bond company for providing the bond. The premium is a permanent transfer and will not be returned.


Not everyone is eligible to become a bail bond cosigner, also known as an indemnitor. The can vary by state or jurisdiction, but most bond companies will want to see evidence that you are a solid citizen with ties to the community. This will typically include showing some sort of government identification, giving proof that you reside in the community and proof of your income. Always be honest with the bond company about all of these things. If you provide false information and the bond service finds out later, they may revoke the bond and your friend or loved one will be taken back into custody.


If you have reason to believe the person for whom you put up bail plans to skip the court date, you may be able to cancel the agreement by contacting the bond company and telling them that you want to cancel. Whether you are able to revoke a bond, for this reason, may depend on the terms of the documents that you signed. So before signing any bail bond papers, check to see if this option is included.

For more information on this topic, contact a qualified bail bonds company in your city.