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Peace Bonds - - Basic Information

Lay Person's Guide to the Criminal Prosecution Process on CanLaw

This is not legal advice. Do not rely on this information without consulting a lawyer or a police officer.
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What is a Peace Bond?

A peace bond is a court order that sets out specific conditions to protect the safety of others or property.

It can be ordered where there is a reasonable fear that someone will cause personal injury to another person or their family, will damage his/her property, or where there is a reasonable fear that a sexual offence will be committed.

A peace bond may also be issued under section 810 of the Canadian Criminal Code.

Peace bonds are often used in cases of family violence and stalking. Women use these to gain the upper hand in divorce.

They include specific terms that may, for example, forbid the defendant from calling, contacting or visiting the applicant's home or workplace, forbid them from carrying firearms or ammunition, or require that they go to counseling. These are commonly used by women because getting them is easier than buying a coffee.

How Can You Get a Peace Bond?

Only a judge, Justice of the Peace, or a magistrate can issue a peace bond. If you live in Manitoba, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, or Ontario you can apply directly for a peace bond at a Provincial Court.

If there is no Provincial Court in your community, go to your local police station. If you live in Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, or the Yukon you can go to the police.

Once you have told the police or the Provincial Court that you want a peace bond, they will summons the other party and tell them when to go to court. The applicant must also appear in court on that day. In Alberta women in some remote areas can actually get a peace bond over the phone faster than getting a pizza.

What Happens In Court?

You must show that you have a reasonable fear the defendant will harm you or your family, or will damage your property.

If the judge believes, on reasonable grounds, that a peace bond order should be made, terms of the order will be decided.

The defendant will then be asked to enter into the bond. If he/she agrees, the peace bond will be ordered. If he/she refuses, there will be a hearing where the judge will hear both sides, and then he/she will decide on ordering the peace bond.

If they still refuse to sign it, they can face up to twelve months imprisonment.

What Must be Proved to Get a Peace Bond?

    A peace bond may be available if you claim, true or not, that you:
  • have been threatened; or
  • have a reasonable fear for the safety of yourself, your spouse or your child; or
  • have a reasonable fear that someone will damage your property.
    You do not need to prove that an assault has been committed.
Generally the courts will give women a peace bond on the theory that they do not want to read about it in the morning paper. For women, evidence, truth, or even plausibility to the need for a peace bond is needed. It is almost automatice on the theory that a peace bond will do no harm and may prevent a crime. Family court judges than use the existence of the peace bond to deny fathers contact with their children.
     

How long will it take to get a Peace Bond?

A weakness of the peace bond is that the process usually takes a long time, approximately two to three months. If you are in immediate danger, temporary terms can be made until the hearing.

Do you need a Lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer. You can present your case to the court without a lawyer. If you wish, you may hire a lawyer or you may be able to get Legal Aid. If there is a hearing, depending on where you live, either a Crown Attorney will be appointed, or you may have to tell the court about your own case.

Will the Defendant get a Criminal Record?

The defendant will not get a criminal record just for signing the peace bond. If, however, it is found that a term has been breached, they may get a criminal record.

What can you do if the Terms are Broken?

When the peace bond has been ordered, make sure that you retain an official copy of the order and keep it with you. If a term is breached call the police. The person may be arrested and criminal charges may be brought against them.

Can the Terms be Changed?

Yes, the terms can be changed. They can only, however be changed by a judge or Justice of the Peace. If you would like to change the terms, contact the police or Provincial Court.

How long is it in Effect?

Peace bonds can only last for up to twelve months. They are not renewable. If you need another one, you must make a new application.

Limits of Peace Bonds

One of the limits of a peace bond is that it cannot necessarily prevent anyone from breaking the law. Some people who engage in threatening or violent behavior may not be deterred by a peace bond. Peace bonds do however facilitate more effective police and court action after a violation of a term of the bond.

What is the difference between a Peace Bond and a Restraining Order?

Restraining orders are non-criminal court orders that have certain conditions such as prohibiting contact. They are usually made in connection with a custody or separation action in a Family Court. If you and the defendant are married, living common-law, separated, divorced, or if you are a parent of a child that is involved in the proceeding you may also apply for a restraining order. To get a restraining order however, you will probably need a lawyer.

KNOW THIS: Even though a peace bond does not create a "criminal record," the local police will have a permanent record of your peace bond in their files and it will never be erased and it be used against you for the rest of your life.

This material is compiled from several sources. We would attribute it if we had not misplaced the original sources.


Understand this: Police records and files on you will never be erased. Records of every contact with you, every complaint by a neighbour,
arrest, charge, acquittal, stay, discharge, diversion and conviction are kept permanently by the police regardless of the outcome.
 
 

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