Acting as a surety is a very important responsibility. Having a suitable surety can determine whether you will be released while you await your trial, which can be many months.
The following are some guidelines to follow in determining whether a surety is suitable or not:
The surety should:
* Be at least 21 years of age;
* Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
*Not have anything to do with the offence;
*Not have a criminal record or any outstanding criminal charges;
*Be in a position to supervise the accused person to some degree (the amount of supervision required will largely depend on the seriousness of the charge):
The surety’s duties include, but are not limited to:
*Ensuring that the accused person attends court when (and on time) and as required;
*Ensuring that the accused person obeys all conditions that the court imposes upon the person;
*Calling the police if the accused person breaches any of those conditions.
*Acknowledging and accepting the risk that if the accused breaches any of their conditions while on bail and the surety does not report the breach to the police, the surety may lose the money or equity that they may have pledged.
Often times, a surety is asked to put up some money or equity (for example, in their house) as part of the bail. Usually, the surety does not actually have to pay the court any cash up front. Instead, they enter into a “recognizance” which is like a contract to pay the court a certain amount if the surety does not do their duties properly.
There is no standard amount of money a surety is required to put up. Instead, it depends on how much money or assets the surety has, how much money they make, the seriousness of the charges, and the accused person’s criminal record.
Remember when acting as a surety:
*It is a criminal offence for a person to breach their bail. If a person is caught doing so, they can be charged with the additional criminal offence of failing to comply with their conditions. More importantly, it becomes very difficult to be released on bail again after an alleged breach.
*Variations to a bail condition can be made only with the consent of the Crown and approved by a justice, or through the bail review process (described above). The surety or sureties CANNOT authorize changes to bail conditions on their own.
*The surety has made a promise to the court and is required to keep it, or risk losing the money they have pledged.