ACTING AS A SURETY IS A SERIOUS MATTER
A surety is someone who agrees to take responsibility for a
person accused of a crime. Being a surety is a serious
commitment. Before you accept this responsibility, here are a few
things you should think about:
- Think about getting independent legal advice to make sure
you understand what this commitment means.
- Do not agree to be a surety if you are not sure that you
can supervise the accused person in the community.
- If the accused person fails to obey the terms and/or
conditions of the court order, you could lose the money you
- Your responsibility as a surety continues until the case is
completely over. In some cases, this may take a long time.
Accepting a fee or being paid back in return for acting as a
surety is against the law.
Responsibilities of a Surety
- Making sure the accused person comes to court on time and
on the right dates.
- Making sure that the accused person obeys each condition of
the bail order, also known as a recognizance.
- Conditions may require the accused person to report to the
police and obey a curfew. They may also order the accused to
not possess weapons, drink alcohol and/or communicate directly
or indirectly with the victim or victim's family. This means
that you as the surety are also not to communicate on behalf of
the accused person with the victim or the victim's family.
- If you are accepted as a surety, you must sign the
recognizance. It means that you agree to pay a specified amount
of money if the accused person fails to obey the court
Qualifications of a Surety
- The judge or justice of the peace will decide whether you
are suitable to act as a surety. Qualifications of a surety
will vary depending on the allegations or charges against the
- The judge will look at your finances, personal character
- You may have to give evidence in court and be
cross-examined about your qualifications.
Ending Your Obligations as a Surety
- You may decide that you are no longer willing or able to
supervise the accused person. In this case you have two
- You may bring the accused to the court
personally and ask that you be relieved of your
- You may come to the court and apply in
writing to the court to be relieved of your duties. The
court will then issue an order for the arrest of the
- If you believe the accused person is a threat to your
safety, you should not attempt to bring the accused person back
to court yourself. Once a court order is made, the police can
arrest the accused and your obligations will be over.
Failure to Obey a Court Order
- If the accused person fails to appear in court or breaks
any other term of the bail order, the accused person may be
charged with another criminal offence.
- If the person is found guilty of breaching the court order,
the Crown may ask the court to make you pay the money you
committed as a surety. A hearing will be scheduled. You and the
accused person will be given at least 10 days notice of the
date and place of the hearing.
- The hearing is called estreatment. It will give you an
opportunity to explain why you should not lose your money.
- The judge may order that you pay all, part, or none of your
- Further legal action may be taken against you to collect
the amount owing.
- In some cases, in addition to the surety's pledge to pay a
specified amount of money, the accused will be required to
deposit a sum of money to the court.
- Where there has been a deposit of cash by the accused
person, or by the surety on behalf of the accused and the case
is over, that money is returned to the accused person
and not to the surety.