What is an Indemnitor?

The Responsibilities of a Signer

Hearing that a friend or loved one has been arrested and taken into custody can be pretty shocking. Add in the frantic search for a bail bond and anxiousness at securing their release and you have a person who may be all too willing to sign anything to get their loved one released without really knowing what their responsibilities are.

A bail bond is used to get a defendant released from jail prior to their court date(s). The bail bond is more or less insurance provided to the court that the defendant will indeed show up for all of their appointed court dates if they are allowed to be freed from police custody to go about their lives.

One of the up-sides to securing release via bail bond is that a bail bondsman only charges a fraction of the total bail amount. If someone were to try and go directly to the court clerks to post bail, they would be required to pay the entire amount of bail – which is usually very expensive.

For instance, if bail was set at $25,000 for a given defendant, that amount of money would need to be paid to the court clerk to have the defendant released from jail.

If bail is posted via cash and a defendant meets their court obligations, then the $25,000 would eventually be reimbursed to the individual who posted the cash bail (minus any relevant fees). However, if the defendant misses court dates, the $25,000 would be forfeit.

A bail bondsman charges far less to get someone out of jail. However, that amount is a non-refundable fee for utilizing the bail bondsman’s service.

When a bail bond contract is signed, the indemnitor (person who signs it) will undertake several responsibilities: 

  1. The first responsibility is that the indemnitor, with the help of the bail agency, will ensure that the defendant meets all of their court obligations.
  2. If the defendant fails to appear for their appointed date(s) in court, the indemnitor will take the responsibility of paying any additional fees associated, including the need for a fugitive recovery agent hired by the bail bond company to bring the defendant back to court.
  3. If the defendant cannot be located in order to return to court, the indemnitor is responsible for paying the entire amount of bail as originally set (in our example above, it was $25,000). If any property was attached to the bail bond, it will be used to fullfill the monitary requirement of the indemnitor and will not be returned.

Bench warrants are issued for defendants that fail to appear in court as agreed upon. The bail amount originally paid is forfeited and a recovery agent (bounty hunter) will be hired in order to bring the defendant back to court.

Life happens. Cars break down, traffic accidents inhibit travel, and extenuating circumstances can cause a person to miss a date in court. It is important that one knows that issues like this can, more often than not, easily be resolved by making a simple call to the bail company and explaining the situation.

It’s easy to make a promise when one is under pressure, but it’s important to know that when a contrat is signed, it is expected to be fullfilled regardless of the mental state of the indemnitor.

Questions to ask yourself before you bail someone out:

  1. Do you trust this person?
  2. How well known to you are they?
  3. How long have you known the person?
  4. Will they take upon themselves the responsibility of meeting their court dates without you having to prompt them to do so?
  5. Do they live or have family out of state?
  6. Is this person a friend or a member of your family?
  7. Do you know their work or school history?
  8. Does this person possess a stable, long-term job or;
  9. Has this person gone from job to job and home to home over the past several years?

Knowing the facts before you sign as indemnitor to a bail bond can be priceless when it comes to keeping your investment secure.