What is a surety?

A surety is a person who takes responsibility for an accused person while they are on bail. A surety is required to supervise a person’s bail conditions, ensure that the terms are being met, ensure the person is attending court and report any violations or problems with the bail. A surety promises a certain amount of money to secure release of the accused. If the accused person fails to apply with their conditions or doesn’t appear in court, the surety may have to pay the promised money to the court.

What is a surety?

There are several requirements an individual must meet to qualify as a surety:

  • Be over the age of 18
  • Not be involved with the charge (ex, a complainant or co-accused cannot act as surety)
  • Be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant
  • Cannot be an employee of the accused person
  • The surety generally must be employed (with some exceptions)
  • Not have any outstanding criminal charges

In addition to these requirements, the Court must be satisfied that the surety is able to pay the amount of bail set out in the recognizance should the accused fail to comply with the terms of the bail. Sometimes the surety will be asked to deposit the amount of the bail at the time the accused is released and will have the money returned if the accused complies with the recognizance. More often, the surety must simply show using bank statements, RRSPs, savings bonds, etc. that he or she is able to pay the amount of the bail if necessary. In the end, the Court will decide if an individual qualifies as a surety and has discretion to waive some of the requirements listed above in special circumstances. The Court will also consider the character of the surety and their overall impression of how responsible and trustworthy the surety appears to be. During the bail hearing, the potential surety may have to give evidence or answer questions about their qualifications to act as a surety.

Duties of a Surety
The main duty of a surety is to supervise the accused person after they are released back into the community and ensure that the accused follows all of the terms and conditions of his or her recognizance. Another important duty of a surety is to make sure that the accused attends at all their assigned court dates. As an acting surety, you are also obliged to ensure that the accused does not commit any criminal offences after they are released on bail. If, at any point during your obligation as surety, it comes to your attention that the accused person has or is about to break a condition of his or her bail you are obliged to notify the police. These responsibilities begin at the bail hearing when the surety signs the recognizance and do not end until the accused’s case is completely over.

No Longer being a Surety
If at some point during the course of your duties you find that you are no longer willing or able to act as a surety, there are steps you can take to relieve yourself from the obligation to act as surety. You can bring the accused person to court personally and ask that they relieve you from your obligation. Another option is to come to the court alone and apply in writing to be relieved of your obligation. In both cases, the accused will be rearrested should you decide to stop acting as their surety.

Consequences of Being a Surety
If you decide to act as a surety you may be forced to forfeit the bail amount specified in the recognizance. If the accused fails to appear for a court date or fails to comply with a condition specified in the recognizance, the Crown may ask that the court direct you to pay the money you committed as bail for the accused. If the Crown makes such a request, a hearing will be scheduled. This type of hearing is referred to as an estreatment. During the estreatment, you will have an opportunity to tell the court your side of the story and explain why you should not have to forfeit the amount of the bail. In the end, the Court will order that you pay all, none or part of the bail amount.

About Cory Wilson

Cory has represented individuals from all walks of life including lawyers, police officers, athletes, corporate executives, teachers, and everything in between. Cory believes in access to justice for every person charged with a criminal offence regardless of their economic background.

Request a Free Consultation

Tel: 403-978-6052