FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE STANDING AS SURETY FOR A SUSPECT
By: Ogbonnaya Nwota
In the course of criminal investigations, persons suspected to have committed a crime and/or linked to a crime, regarded as SUSPECTS, are usually invited or arrested by the Police to explain in a WRITTEN form what they know or their roles about the said crime. This is called STATEMENT. Having made a statement, Police is empowered by the Law to administer BAIL (temporary release from Police custody pending conclusion of investigation) to a suspect, depending on the gravity of the offence being investigated and other variables.
While considering bail application, it is expected that a SURETY, (a person who undertakes to produce him/her to the Police whenever needed) be made to sign for the Police on a Bail Bond (a form with details of suspect, suspected offence, conditionality etc) before the bail is perfected and granted.
Friends and family members are usually prompted and contacted by the suspect(s) in this regard, requesting to be their surety. Before you sign that bail bond as a surety to a suspect, you are advised to consider the following implications:
- How well do you know the suspect? Most criminals conceal their criminal personality from their friends and family members. You’re implored to always endeavour to hear the other side of the story from the IPO (Investigating Police Officer) before you undertake to stand as a surety to a suspect.
- Can you always produce the suspect whenever needed? If you’re not very conversant with the movement and whereabouts of the suspect, it will be wiser and safer for you NOT to stand as his/her surety, as you’re expected produce him/her whenever needed.
- Do you know you that your inability to produce a suspect you stood as surety for can warrant your committal to court by the Police to show why you should not forfeit the amount stated in the bond? So, it’s important you take cognizance of the amount written on the bail bond as that may be the amount the court will require you to pay should you default in the production of the suspect you took on bail or serve it out in the prison.
- Do you know you can withdraw from being surety before the conclusion of investigation? Yes you can withdraw if you discover the suspect to be unreliable, but that’s not without producing and handing him/her over to the Police and requesting formally through application for withdrawal from standing as the surety.
- Any fit and proper person irrespective of sex can stand as a surety for a suspect, though other qualifications/criteria may apply.
Before you stand as a surety for someone, think twice; interrogate dispassionately the alleged offence and the character of the person involved. Refuse to be a partaker in another person’s crime for you are your security!