When your child is charged with a criminal offence there are a number of ways they can be released on bail. It can be done directly from the police station after they are charged, or alternatively they can be released from bail court either with the Prosecutor’s consent or after a bail hearing. For more information about these processes read my blog posts titled “Your Child’s Undertaking to a Peace Officer” and “Your Child’s Appearance in Bail Court“.
If your child is not released from the police station after being charged, but instead is brought to bail court, it may be that in order to get your child released, a surety is needed.
A surety is a person who promises to make sure that an accused person will follow the rules of the court (bail conditions) if they are released. This person is taking on the responsibility of supervising the accused person. In doing so, a surety promises a certain amount of money to the court. This is called a bond. A bond is a way of ensuring that a surety is going to take their responsibilities seriously. If the accused person breaks one of the rules imposed by the court, the surety is obligated to call the police and report this as a breach. If the surety fails to do so, it could result in the surety losing the money (bond) they promised to the court.
When it comes to youth cases, more often than not, it is a parent who steps up to act as surety. Choosing to be a surety can have a significant impact on the relationship between you and your child. As a parent of a teenager you’re likely very used to getting to decide how and when to punish your child, but it is important to keep in mind that when it comes to being surety, you’re no longer in charge. If your child breaks one of the conditions imposed by the court, the law requires you to call the police on your child. This call can result in your child being taken back into custody (although often temporarily). If you’re going to act as a surety, it is often helpful to have a conversation with your child about your new role. It is a good idea to make sure that they understand that your obligations do not allow you to give them any leeway when it comes to compliance with the bail conditions.