What is a Surety?

A friend, family member or partner can help an accused be released from prison.
A friend, family member or partner can help an accused be released from prison.
  • A surety is a person who appears in court for the accused, who is being held in custody, to assist in their release.
  • They promise to a judge or a justice of the peace to supervise an accused person while they are out on bail.
  • There duty to the court is to ensure to the best of their ability that the accused complies with the conditions of the bail.
  • A surety also pledges an amount of money to the court. They a  bond called a recognizance, that allows for the court to come after the money should the accused be caught breaching their bail conditions or fail to appear in court when required.

Can I be a surety?

  • A surety should be an adult Canadian citizen or a permanent resident
  • In most cases it is required that the surety have no criminal record.
  • In some cases you may still be able to act as a surety for the accused if you do have a minor criminal record or it has been a significant period time since your conviction.
  • If you are the the complainant of the offence against the accused, you cannot be the accused’s surety.
  • The surety's are usually not required to deposit cash in most cases, but you must be demonstrate to the court that you have adequate resources for the amount on the bail.
  • Assets deemed adequate include real estate in your name, bank accounts with the amount of money necessary, and investments like stocks and/or bonds.

What is the surety's role in court?

  • If the bail is contested, meaning that the Crown does not agree that the accused should be released, it is likely that the prospective surety will have testify in court.
  • They will be asked questions by the Crown, the Defence and sometimes the judge or justice of the peace, about their ability to supervise the accused.

What happens to the surety if the  accused breaks one of the bail conditions?

  • As a surety it is your promise to the court  to notify the police if you become aware that the accused is breaking their bail condition(s).
  •  If the accused is found by the police to be in breach of their bail they with be charged criminally with failure to comply with recognizance.
  • If they are found guilty or plead guilty it is possible that the  Crown may  ask for the surety to pay the money that you promised/pledged to the court.
  • If this occurs there will be a hearing where the judge or justice determines if the surety is required to pay the money in question to the court.
  • The accused bail will be revoked and the accused will have to have another bail hearing.
  • Most likely the accused  will need a different surety if they are accused of failure to comply with recognizance, in relation to a breach.
  • Even if the accused does not breach their bail conditions a surety may wish to no longer act as the accused's surety.
  • A surety may stop being a surety at any time.
  • They can request the court to be remove them as a surety.
  • If you are removed as surety, the accused will be put back in custody or if they are not present with you, a warrant will be issued for their arrest.
  • If you are charged with a criminal offence contact Kostman and Pyzer, Barristers for advice!
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