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Peace Bonds

If you fear for your safety, or the safety of your spouse (including a common law spouse), children or property, help may be available in the form of a peace bond. A peace bond can also be requested if someone has threatened to release or distribute intimate photos of you.

The person you fear may be a current or former partner, a co-worker, casual acquaintance or total stranger. If you know who the person is, you can apply to the court for a peace bond.

A peace bond requires another person to “keep the peace” for a certain amount of time and obey any other conditions ordered.

A peace bond does not cost anything and you do not need a lawyer to get one. However, it can some time to get a peace bond so they may not be useful in emergency situations.

A peace bond is not a criminal conviction. As long as the conditions of the peace bond are met, the person will not be charged with a criminal offence.

However, if the conditions of the peace bond are broken, the person can be charged with a criminal offence. If convicted, the person can be fined and/or jailed and will then have a criminal record.

How to Get a Peace Bond

In rural areas you go to nearest RCMP detachment. In larger centres you go to the police station. If possible, bring a written statement with you and include a detailed description of the person who is threatening or harassing you.

Bring any notes about past incidents or any threatening letters, emails, texts, pictures, social media messages or voicemails. It is important to try to keep thorough notes about any incidents and to keep any text messages, emails, or copies of communications that are threatening or harassing.

The police will do an investigation which may include interviewing other witnesses, doing a criminal record check, and interviewing the person you fear. If the police find there are reasonable grounds to support your fears they will create the peace bond which will include a list of rules that must be followed such as no contact with you.

The police will contact the person to determine if they will agree to the conditions in the peace bond. If the person agrees they sign the peace bond. The police then provide the court with the signed peace bond and the information you provided to the police. The court then signs the peace bond making it an order of the court.

If the person will not voluntarily agree to enter into a peace bond there will be a hearing.

The Hearing

A hearing is similar to a trial. You must attend court on the hearing date.

A Crown Prosecutor will conduct the case on your behalf. The other person may be represented by a lawyer or may speak for themselves at the hearing.

The judge hears both sides, including testimony from you, the other person and any other witnesses. After considering all the evidence, the judge will decide whether or not to order the peace bond. If the person will not agree to enter into the peace bond after a judge’s order, the person can be placed in jail for up to twelve months.

The Peace Bond

The judge can order the peace bond for any set period of time, up to 12 months. After it expires, if you still fear for your safety, the safety of your family or your property as the result of a new incident, you can apply for a new peace bond.

When a peace bond is ordered the person must agree to keep the peace and be on good behaviour. A number of other conditions can be included in a peace bond including requiring the person to…

  • not possess any weapons
  • stay away from your home
  • not contact you, your spouse or your child
  • abstain from the consumption of non-prescription drugs and alcohol

You should make sure to get a copy of the peace bond and keep it with you.

Making Contact

If you decide you want to see the person after a peace bond is in place, talk to the police or Crown Prosecutor and ask that the peace bond be changed to allow the person to make contact with you.

Do not invite the person to see you unless the peace bond has been changed to allow it, or the peace bond has expired.

Breaking the Bond

By breaking any of the conditions of the peace bond the person is committing a crime. If the person breaks or threatens to break the peace bond, call the police immediately. The police can arrest the person and may charge them with a criminal offence.

If the police charge the person and the person denies the charge, there will be a trial. You may then have to give evidence about how the person broke the peace bond.

If the person pleads guilty to the charge, you do not need to go to court, but may choose to do so.

After the person pleads or is found guilty, the judge will decide the sentence for the offence. You may want to provide the court with a victim impact statement so that the judge can consider the effect the person’s actions have had on you.

Ask the police or Crown Prosecutor about the availability of Victim Services in your area. Victim Services can provide information and support to victims of reported crimes. A court-based victim/witness support program can help you through your involvement with the criminal justice system.

Sentencing

If a person is convicted of breaking the peace bond they could receive...

  • a fine of up to $5000
  • a jail term of up to 2 years
  • both a fine and a jail term

In very serious cases, the accused person could receive a jail term of up to four years.

Protecting Yourself

By itself, a peace bond may not protect you from violence at the hands of the other person. The person may ignore the court order. The possibility of a criminal record may not be enough to stop the person from being violent.

Whether or not you have a peace bond, if you need immediate protection, call the police, go to the nearest shelter, or call a crisis line. The police may be able to...

• charge the person with breaking the peace bond, if one was signed

• restrain the violent person

• lay assault charges

• lay other charges, such as criminal harassment, intimidation or uttering threats

• arrest and keep the person in jail until released on certain conditions

DO NOT PUT YOURSELF AT RISK.

If you need support to help deal with a violent person, call a crisis or help line. Ask about treatment programs for people who are violent. Contact Victim Services. Go to a mental health clinic or other counsellor for support and information. Talk to a member of the clergy or an elder.

Other Options

Because a peace bond can take some time to process there are other options in an emergency. In an emergency, victims of interpersonal violence can apply to a special Justice of the Peace for help at any time of the day or night. Police officers, mobile crisis workers and victim services coordinators can help victims do this.

If the abuser is your spouse and you have children together you may need a parenting order to determine when and how the other parent can see the children. Options such as supervised parenting time can help keep you and your children safe.

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