What Responsibilities and Rights Does a Surety Have?

PUBLISHED ON November 20, 2020


A surety is a person who the Court approves to supervise an accused person who would otherwise remain in custody pending his or her trial.  The surety is responsible for supervising the accused throughout their criminal proceeding until it is fully resolved. Typically, this person is a spouse, parent, or other relative or friend who knows the accused sufficiently.

Once assigned as surety by the court there are certain responsibilities and rights that follow:

  1. The surety will ensure the accused person appears on time for all court appearances.
  2. The surety will ensure the accused person follows the terms and conditions of their bail release, such as not engaging in other criminal activities, adhering to a curfew, etc. 
  3. The surety will notify the police and/or court if the accused person is not following the terms and conditions of their bail release. 

What Are the Qualifications to be a Surety?

The court will require a surety to meet certain qualifications including:

  • The surety must be age 18 or older.
  • The surety must be a Canadian citizen or have appropriate immigration status. 
  • The surety cannot be presently charged for a criminal offence or have been involved in the same offence with the accused.
  • The surety should have cash or assets they can offer the court as a security for the accused to receive bail.
  • The surety must be willing to monitor the accused to ensure they will adhere to their bail conditions for release.
  • The surety must be willing to report the accused if they violate the terms and conditions of their bail release. 

Does Bail Have to Be Paid Upfront?

In most cases, you must make a promise to pay should the accused person fail to follow the conditions of their bail or appear for their court appearances.   This is called a “pledge”.  

During the bail hearing, the accused’s criminal defence lawyer will inform the court of the amount you can promise to pay as surety. However, it is entirely up to the judge to determine the actual amount of bail to be paid. 

While the possibility of putting up “cash” for an accused’s release exists, this is not the common procedure in Ontario. 

It must be noted: a surety stands to lose that pledged amount should the accused abscond or breach the bail conditions.  As you can see, being a surety does have significant responsibilities.

The foregoing is not legal advice.  This is for general informational purposes only.  Should you require legal advice and have concerns about being a surety, you will want to discuss these with a criminal defence lawyer before the bail hearing. 

For further information about being a surety and to find a Toronto criminal defence lawyer for a bail hearing for a loved one or friend, please feel free to contact Brian Ross at (416) 658-5855 today! 


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Brian Ross is a founding partner at Canada’s largest criminal Law firm, Rusonik, O’Connor, Robbins, Ross & Angelini, LLP. Prior to founding this firm, Brian was a partner at Pinkofskys, a leading law firm famous for its vigorous defence of its clients.

Selected for the 2022, 2023, and 2024 editions of the Best Lawyers in Canada

Inclusion in the Best Lawyers in Canada is based on a rigorous peer-review survey. Recognition by Best Lawyers symbolizes excellence in practice and specifically, high calibre work in criminal defence.


Mr. Ross is a member of the Criminal Lawyer’s Association and Legal Aid Ontario’s “Extremely Serious Matters” Panel, consisting of criminal lawyers deemed to have the proven experience necessary to conduct trials in the most serious of criminal matters.


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