How to get out of a bail bond contract

In certain situations, it is possible to be removed from a bail bond as a cosigner.

You’ll need to check in with your bail bond agency to check that you meet certain criteria to revoke your signature. 

After you have done that, your agency will advise you on the required paperwork through their contract management software and what evidence you need to give in order to be released from your agreement.

How do bail bonds work?

A bail bond relates to the criminal justice system.

When an individual is arrested and becomes a criminal defendant, they will typically have a bail hearing after being charged.

At this hearing, a judge will lay out a set monetary value that constitutes “bail”. 

A bail bond is the agreement made by the defendant that they will pay a certain amount of money and appear in court for trial. 

A bail bond is signed by three parties–the defendant, a cosigner, and a bail bondsman, creating a contractual obligation.

The cosigner pays the bondsman a fee and the bondsman collects some kind of collateral from the cosigner.

This could be house or car deeds, or sometimes jewelry. In return, the bondsman guarantees payment of the bail if the defendant fails to appear in court. 

Most of the time, this is done through a bail bond agency. 

What is a cosigner?

A cosigner (also known as an indemnitor) is usually a friend or relative of the defendant.

They take responsibility for making sure the defendant makes all the necessary appearances in court.

If the defendant fails to appear, the cosigner is held responsible and the bail bond agency can collect their assets as payment. 

What happens if you sign someone’s bail bond and they don’t go to court?

If you have put up a sum of money for bail and the person does not go through with all scheduled court appearances, then you may be at risk of losing your money.

You may also risk losing any collateral that you put up to obtain the money, if it was a large sum. 

The bail bond is then known as “defaulted”. Typically, the process following default will look something like this:

  1. The court will notify you of a defaulted bond and inform you of a statutory time period, during which you can attempt to make good on the bond.
  2. You may then bring the person who missed their court date to the police and fill out some paperwork in order to turn them in.
  3. Alternatively, once they have missed their court date, a bench warrant will be issued for their arrest. You may then follow the same procedure should they be arrested pursuant to this bench warrant.

Unfortunately, if you’re unable to do the above, then you’re likely to lose your money and any collateral. 

Cases when you can get your name removed from a bail bond

Bail bonds are legally binding contracts, so there are only certain scenarios in which you can be released from your agreement. These include:

  • If you have a legitimate reason why you believe the defendant will not follow through on their obligations
  • The defendant has put you in danger or engages in criminal activity
  • When the bail bond agency cancels the agreement
  • Your name is added to the bond without your knowledge – in this case, you have not actually, legally, entered into the contract

Be sure to check with your bail bond agency to check if you need these criteria before attempting to remove your name from a bail bond.

The importance of understanding a bail bond contract

Before entering any contract with someone, you should always understand what is required of you and the circumstances in which you can exit the contract.

It is particularly important to understand how to get out of a bail bond contract because they may involve a large amount of money and they involve navigating criminal justice proceedings.

You might also consider using an electronic signature software to easily sign contracts and track signed agreements.