What is a surety? (Surety, not Shurety or Shurity or Assurety or asurety....)
A surety is a person who can guarantee that you will go to court and comply with bail conditions. They also guarantee to the court that you won't break the law during the time that you are in their care. A surety who comes forward and is appointed by the court is bound to guarantee attendance and compliance of an accused until the accused is discharged or sentenced. Alternatively, the surety can revoke their status by personally attending at the courthouse and revoking their surety of the accused. The surety might have put up a bond. A bond is a promise to the court that if the accused fails to satisfy a condition of his or her release, and the surety fails to notify the police of the breach, that the money can be seized by the Crown. Bonds are not paid up front, but are collected by the Crown at a later time.
What do you need to be a surety?
Good sureties are typically people who are responsible, law-abiding, organized, diligent, and who are proximate or who have adequate space in their home and schedule to supervise the accused. Ideally, a good surety is one who knows the accused well and who can help him or her attend court and keep appointments for things such as mental health assessments, rehab, counselling, AA meetings and the like. A good surety is one who can clearly follow the conditions laid out in the recognizance and who can be relied on to call the police in the event of a breach.
A surety must have a permanent address where the accused can be located.
It is preferable if the surety does not have a criminal record. This may or may not rule you out - it'll depend on the nature and age of your own charges and what circumstances you know the accused and where you stand now. It is not entirely impossible to be someone's surety if you can demonstrate a pro-social lifestyle and a long-term break from any criminal past.
A good surety testifies honestly and succinctly by answering the question that is posed. You will likely testify at a bail hearing for the accused if you come forward as a surety. It is important that you spend a little bit of time preparing for court. Dress appropriately, don't chew gum, be polite, and don't get defensive when the Crown, Defence or the Justice of the Peace asks you questions about your background and the appropriateness of your candidacy to be a surety.
Once you are deemed a surety, your responsibilities are to make sure the accused attends court and fulfills any conditions that are required. In terms of fulfilling those conditions vis-a-vis dealing with the accused and enforcing house rules that comply with those conditions, you have the final say and now you have the backing of a court order (recognizance) behind you. If at any time it becomes impossible or there is an imminent breach, you can revoke your surety by attending at the courthouse in the Justice of the Peace Intake office.
Can I get paid to be a surety?
No, you cannot. It is illegal to receive payment in exchange for being a surety. There are no bail bondsmen: this is Canada, not the movies.
Do I have to pay money if I am a surety?
The short answer is usually no. The Court asks for a bond, which is a pledge of a sum of money usually at least $500.00. The money is not collected up front, but can be collected by the Crown if the accused breaches his or her conditions and the surety fails to notify the Court of the breach or revoke themselves as surety.
In circumstances where the Court feels that a higher amount of money or more security is required to give both the accused and the surety the incentive to comply with the conditions, the Court may impose cash bail. Cash bail requires that a sum of money be paid up front. Sometimes it is a standalone component of bail, other times it can be combined with a bond.
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