If you fear for your safety, or the safety of your spouse, children or property, help may be available in the form of a peace bond. A peace bond is a court order that requires another person to "keep the peace" for a certain amount of time and obey any other conditions ordered.
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 does not cost anything and you do not need a lawyer to get one.
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.
If you have a real fear that someone is going to harm you, your children or your property, you can make and sign a statement called an "Information" stating that you fear for your safety and stating the reasons why you are afraid. In rural areas the Information is sworn at the local RCMP detachment; in larger centres it is sworn at the Police Station or Crown Prosecutor's office. The person you name will then be required to appear in court on a certain date and time.
A Crown Prosecutor will explain the situation to a judge. You do not have to be present at this time, but may choose to attend.
If the court is satisfied that you have reasonable grounds to fear for your own safety or the safety of your children or property, the judge will ask the other person to enter into a peace bond.
If the person agrees to the peace bond the judge will grant the peace bond right away. The person must read and sign the peace bond. They must indicate that they understand the bond and agree to follow conditions, such as...
If the person will not voluntarily agree to enter into a peace bond the judge will order a hearing.
A hearing is similar to a trial. If the judge orders a hearing, 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.
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.
A peace bond may protect you by discouraging the other person from harming you.
With a peace bond, the judge will order the other person to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. For your safety, the judge will also consider other conditions, such as ordering that the person cannot contact you or your family, be around your home or workplace, possess any weapons or use alcohol or non-prescription drugs.
You should make sure to get a copy of the peace bond and keep it with you.
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 12 months.
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.
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.
If a person is convicted of breaking the peace bond they could receive a jail term of up to 18 months. In serious cases, the accused person could receive a jail term of up to 4 years.
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. While the person can be arrested for breaking the court order, you should also have a safety plan in place, in case you find yourself in a crisis situation.
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.