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What is a surety?

A recognizance means the surety must pay money to the court if the accused violates bail. (Stock photo from iStock/Getty Images.

In criminal proceedings, a surety is a person who makes a promise to court to be responsible for the accused, and make sure he/she follows his or her bail conditions after being released. The surety makes also makes a promise to the court that the accused will attend court when required.

As part of a bail hearing, the judge may order that the surety enters into a recognizance. This means the surety makes an additional promise to pay a determined sum of money to the court if the accused violates their bail conditions.

The judge may ask a person who wants to be a surety questions regarding his or her employment, family background, and relationship with the accused to approve the surety.

Note that if your surety feels you may leave the province or break one of your bail conditions or not appear in court as promised, he or she can go to court and file an application for their arrest.

If you are going to be someone’s surety, consult with a lawyer to fully familiarize yourself with your obligations. The surety’s responsibilities don’t end until the case is completely wrapped up.

Read more:

B.C. – Bail and surety

What sureties need to know