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What is a Peace Bond?

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Daisy Zhang, Mariya Protsenko

Neuberger & Partners LLP

Criminal Defence Lawyers

 

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.  It is merely an alleged fear and not any proof of any admission of guilt.  A peace bond can be issued pursuant to a judge’s common law jurisdiction.

A peace bond is also utilized in criminal proceedings where an accused person resolves the case by entering into a peace bond and the criminal charges are withdrawn.  This commonly happens when someone is charged with domestic assault, threatening, criminal harassment and much more rarely when charged with sexual assault.

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

It is used where an individual (the defendant) appears likely to commit a criminal offence, but there are no reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has actually been committed.

In these situations, a person can obtain a peace bond against the defendant from the Court. The Court may impose specific conditions that are designed to prevent the defendant from committing harm to the person, their spouse or common-law partner, their child, or from committing damage their property.

Where the Court accepts the application for the peace bond, the defendant must obey the conditions of the peace bond or else he or she may face criminal charges. Peace bonds can be enforced anywhere in Canada and can be in place for up to one year. If the threat persists after one year, the peace bond can be renewed by application to the Court.

Obtaining a peace bond may take several weeks or even months, so peace bonds do not deal with emergencies.  In an emergency, call 911.

Who can get a peace bond?

Any person who fears that another person may injure them, their spouse or common-law partner, or a child, or may damage their property may obtain a peace bond.

What conditions can be in a peace bond?

The defendant may agree or the Court can order the defendant to:

  • keep the peace and be of good behaviour;
  • not contact the person, their spouse, or child;
  • not visit the person, their spouse, or child;
  • not call the person on the phone;
  • not write letters or send text messages;
  • abstain from using non-prescription drugs or alcohol, and be required to provide bodily samples to ensure compliance;
  • be forbidden from owning weapons;
  • pay, or promise to pay, a refundable surety (cash bond) to the Court, which may be forfeited if the defendant subsequently breaches any conditions of the peace bond; or
  • any other condition the Court considers desirable to prevent the harm.

How Long Is It in Effect?

Section 810 peace bonds can only last for up to twelve months. If you need another one, you must make a new application or seek an extension.

A common law peace bond can exceed 12 months.

If a peace bond is issued as a resolution in a criminal case, which we often have in our cases, the term is usually for one year.  We often seek common law peace bond rather than section 810 peace bonds.

What if I am charged and I resolve by way of a Peace Bond – will a Peace Bond affect my status in Canada?

Even though a peace bond does not create a “criminal record,” the CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre) will have a notation on the computer system.

Section 810 Peace bonds and common law peace bonds do NOT result in any finding of civil or criminal liability.

Common law peace bonds usually do not show results in the police information system.

A peace bond won’t appear as a criminal record.  The notation on the system will show that the charge or charges have been withdrawn which is consistent with innocence.

Depending upon the charge(s) the notation on the computer system may be purged.

However, if the charge is a domestic assault, threatening or sexual assault, the police service is not likely to have the notation purged or the pictures and prints destroyed.  That said, it will only end up in an enhanced criminal record check and vulnerable sector record.  We have had success in convincing police services to expunge the pictures and prints as well as the notation on the computer system.

 If I enter into a Peace Bond, does this mean I am guilty?

No!!  A peace bond does not require the accused person to plead guilty.  This means that the accused person, by signing the peace bond, is NOT admitting to any criminal or civil wrongdoing.  As a result, there is no “finding of guilt” registered, and, of course, no criminal conviction. The charge(s) is withdrawn.

What if I am not a citizen?

Under s. 36 of IRPA (Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, SC 2001, c 27), criminality is defined as “having been convicted in Canada of an offence under an Act of Parliament punishable by way of indictment, or of two offences under any Act of Parliament not arising out of a single occurrence.” It means that any disposition short of conviction would not result in criminal inadmissibility under IRPA, which includes peace bonds, discharges – absolute or conditional, diversion programs, stay of charges, withdrawal and Not Criminally Responsible (NCR). It is worth mentioning here that only offences arising from federal legislation will result in inadmissibility and an offence under a provincial legislation will not result in inadmissibility to Canada.

However, any breach of the term(s) of a Peace Bond may lead to a new charge; and, if such a new charge of disobeying the court order or breach of recognizance or failure to comply with probation order, leads to conviction, could result in inadmissibility.

Conclusion:

Peace bonds are an effective way to cease contact with a person or, if charged with domestic related offences, such as Assault, Threatening, Criminal Harassment or even Sexual Assault, is sometimes a very effective way of resolving a criminal case.  Consultation with your lawyer is vital to ensure you are fully informed of all issues related to your case.

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