A cosigner on a bail bond surrenders the bond by delivering the defendant who was out on bail into custody. This means that the party must bring the defendant to law enforcement officers or to a county jail. When a cosigner surrenders the bond, he is released from the contract for the bond. A cosigner who surrenders a bond may still have to pay a fee to the bondsman. State law and the circumstances of the defendant’s return determine how much the cosigner can get back.
How to Revoke a Bail Bond
A cosigner can revoke a bond prior to a surrender. Revoking a bond means cancelling the bond contract. A cosigner revokes a bond by meeting with the bondsman. Requirements for revocation typically include completing documents to cancel the bond, providing a reason for doing so and providing information on the defendant’s whereabouts. A defendant who cannot find a new cosigner may have to return to jail.
When to Remove a Cosigner
A party should request to be removed as a cosigner when he has reason to believe that the defendant will not show up for court. A party should also ask to be removed as cosigner if the defendant has been arrested on a new charge. In addition, a party should seek removal when he needs the return of the money or property used as collateral for the bond.
When Can’t a Cosigner Revoke a Bond?
A cosigner cannot revoke a bond when the defendant has not made all of her court appearances. A cosigner also cannot revoke a bond when either or both the cosigner and the defendant have breached the contract for the bond. A cosigner who is ineligible to revoke a bond may be responsible for the bondsman’s fee. If the cosigner wants to break the contract, she should consider seeking the help of a mediator or a civil attorney.
What Will the Cosigner Pay?
When a cosigner revokes a bond, he may remain responsible for the certain percentage of the bond payment that the bondsman requires upfront. He may also have to pay the cost of locating the defendant and returning her to custody. If a defendant fails to show up for court, and the cosigner has not revoked the bond, the bondsman can collect the cosigner’s collateral.
What Is a Reasonable Rate?
A reasonable rate for a bail bond varies among states. A cosigner should review the self-help pages of the relevant state court to determine what she will lose when she revokes the bond. In California, a bondsman usually charges 10 percent of the bail amount. The bondsman may also charge a fee. The percentage and fee may be higher if the defendant has a long criminal history.
What Is a Renewal Premium?
When a case lasts more than a year, a bondsman may charge a renewal premium. This is the annual cost of renewing the bail bond. The amount of the renewal premium varies among bondsmen. The contract for the bond should state the cost of the renewal premium and the date on which it is due. A cosigner who surrenders or revokes a bond may be responsible for the renewal premium under the circumstances laid out in the contract.
Who Handles Complaints About Bail Bondsmen?
Usually a state’s department of insurance handles complaints about forfeiture or refunds of collateral for bail bonds. In some states, such as Texas, a cosigner can file a complaint about a bail bond online with the state’s department of insurance. A state’s bail bond board or a local law enforcement agency, such as a sheriff's office, can handle other concerns about bail bonds.
- California Department of Insurance: Bail Bonds
- California Penal Code, Bail: Forfeiture of the Undertaking of Bail or of the Deposit of Money
- California Courts, Criminal Law: Frequently Asked Questions
- New Jersey Courts: Criminal Justice Reform Information Center
- Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Services: Opening a Bail Bond Agency
- Texas Department of Insurance: Bond Resources