What is a Surety?

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A surety is someone who enters into a legal agreement with the State whereby they agreed to forfeit a set monetary amount if the accused person fails to answer their bail at court as required.

Surety condition is expressed as a monetary amount, i.e “A surety in the amount of $10,000”. It does not mean that the surety is required to hand over the surety amount before the accused is released on bail. Rather, it is a promise to forfeit the surety amount if the accused does not attend court as required.

Usually, the surety is required to demonstrate to the State that they own assets equal to or exceeding the amount of the surety. For example, if the surety amount is $10,000: the surety will need to demonstrate that they own assets equal to or in excess of this amount that can be seized and forfeited to the State in the event the accused person fails to attend court. This is usually done by producing documents such as third-party insurance renewal (proving ownership of a particular make and model of vehicle) or mortgage documents (demonstrating ownership of property).

The more serious the allegation(s) against the accused are, the more likely it is that surety will be required and the higher the surety amount is likely to be.

The surety only stands to forfeit the surety amount if the accused person fails to attend court. The surety is not liable in the event that the accused is found to be in breach of any other conditions of their bail (i.e. curfew or failing to report to police).

If you are a surety, or considering going surety for someone: it is important that you understand your rights and obligations. As long as the relevant accused person is not one of our existing clients: one of our criminal solicitors can give you advice about being a surety. It is important to obtain independent legal advice from a criminal lawyer who is not representing the accused in order to avoid conflict of interest.

If you are after general information about bail applications: please see our main page on for more information.

Paxman & Paxman are a top criminal law firm in Perth. If you have a question about bail or being a surety: our team of professionals are here to help. If you would like advice about your case: give us a call today on 1300 274 692 or fill out an online enquiry and one of team will happily assist you with your enquiry. Our office is conveniently located in the Perth CBD adjacent to the Central Law Courts, close to public transport.