When a person has been charged with a criminal offence, to be released on bail, they may need one or more people to act as their surety. A surety pledges an amount of money that they forfeit if the person they are surety for does not comply with their bail conditions. The idea is that this creates an incentive for the person to comply with their conditions, because they don’t want the surety to lose that money, and that it creates an incentive for the surety to supervise and influence the person to be compliant. Sometimes the bail terms require that the person charged live with their surety and may also require that the surety accompany the person any time they go out. For a court to require a surety means that the court considers the case to be very serious and that the person charged presents a significant risk to either not show up for court or to commit further offences while out on bail if not supervised.
How GPS and alcohol monitoring can help a surety
Recovery Science’s GPS and alcohol monitoring programs can add strength to surety supervision. For example:
- A court may be concerned that the person charged might leave the house without the surety knowing about it. GPS monitoring will detect when the person leaves the house and RSC will make a report to police.
- GPS monitoring can help fill gaps in surety supervision, for example when a surety is sleeping or at work.
- With GPS monitoring, the court may permit the person to have more freedom of movement, for example being able to go to work or school or be out during the day within a defined area, reducing the burden on the surety of having to be with the person all the time.
- A court may permit a person with GPS monitoring to live on their own instead of requiring that they live with their surety.
- When a person’s criminal behaviour is associated with alcohol abuse, including continuous alcohol monitoring or remote breath testing in the supervision plan may help the person be released on bail and helps the surety by being an independent source for knowing whether or not the person is drinking.
Being a surety is a serious commitment with risks
Being a surety is a serious matter and involves the potential to forfeit a large amount of money. When asked to be a surety, a person may feel pressure to say yes to help someone they care for get out of jail. Once a person is acting as a surety, they find themselves in the very difficult situation of needing to report someone they care for to the police for violating their bail conditions. Sureties may feel pressure not to report violations to the police or even to lie to the police to cover for the person they are surety for. This can expose the surety not only to the loss of money but of facing criminal charges themselves. It is therefore important that sureties fully understand the commitments they are making when they agree to be a surety.
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