The role of sureties in bail administration

A surety plays a huge role in bail agreement as the provision of sureties may be one of the conditions to fulfil in the process of securing the release of an accused.

Section 167 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act states that a person given bail may be required to produce such surety or sureties as, in the opinion of the court, will be sufficient to ensure his appearance in court when required.  


Who is a surety?

A surety is a person who undertakes to take responsibility for a person accused of a crime not to violate the terms of their bail.

In fulfilling the conditions for a bail, a surety may be required to provide security in form of money/properties known as bail bond in order to secure the temporary release of the suspect, and to guarantee that the accused will honour the terms of bail agreement by appearing in court when required, and fulfilling any other condition stipulated.


What are the rights of a surety?

  • A surety or all sureties in a recognizance may apply at any time to discharge themselves from a bail agreement.
  • Thus, it is possible to stop acting as a surety for an accused person if you so desire. The implication of this is that the defendant will be re-arrested to find other sufficient sureties or meet some other conditions.
  • At the end of a trial a surety has a right to retrieve any money or security they may have deposited on behalf of an accused person as long as the accused person abides.

 Section 165(3) of the ACJA states that the money or security deposited shall be returned to the defendant or his surety or sureties, as the case may be, at the conclusion of the trial or on an application by the surety to the court to discharge his recognizance.

  • If the bail conditions are not respected. A surety has a right to be heard by the court before they loose their security. Thus, before a bail bond can be forfeited as a penalty, you have a right to make a case before the court why it should not be forfeited. A surety has the right to appeal to a higher court if he is dissatisfied with the order of forfeiture made by the lower court.

What are the obligations of a surety?

  • If the accused jumps bail or breaks any of the terms stated in the recognizance, the surety is obliged to pay the sum stated in the recognizance/ bail bond. If the surety fails to pay the penalty, the court may proceed to recover the penalty proceedings for recovery of fines in the ACJA. If the surety fails to pay the penalty and cannot be recovered from the surety, the surety shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.
  • If the surety dies after he or she is liable to pay the bail, his estate becomes liable for the amount to be paid. Therefore, if the surety dies before any form of liability arises, the court may order the re-arrest of the accused or that fresh recognizance be made with or without sureties.
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