Under section 810 of the Criminal Code of Canada, a person (called the complainant) can lay a peace bond against another person (called the defendant). A peace bond is a court order in the form of a signed promise that the defendant will obey certain rules for a period of time. That period of time can be for a maximum of 12 months.
Who can lay a peace bond?
Anyone who fears on reasonable grounds that the defendant will cause injury to him/her or his/her spouse/common-law partner or child can lay a peace bond against the defendant. A person can also do so if they fear the defendant will cause damage to his or her property.
A complainant can also lay a peace bond if they fear that the defendant will publish, distribute, or sell an intimate image of them without their consent. It is an offence to do this under section 162.1 of the Criminal Code, and it is particularly relevant in the age of social media.
What is the procedure?
A complainant who wants to lay a peace bond can apply to do so at the courthouse. The clerks at the courthouse can provide the appropriate forms to begin the process. The complainant will have to swear a statement that outlines the reasons for their fear of the defendant. A person can also contact a lawyer to obtain legal advice on how to navigate the peace bond process.
The sworn statement will be taken to a Justice of the Peace (JP) who will then require that the defendant and the complainant appear in court for a hearing. If the JP is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the complainant’s fear, he or she may order that the defendant enters into the peace bond.
What conditions are included in a peace bond?
It is a mandatory condition of the peace bond that the defendant keeps the peace and be of good behaviour for the duration of the peace bond.
It is very likely that the defendant will be ordered to stay away from the complainant and to not go to any place he or she resides, works, or goes to school. This order can also be applied to the complainant’s children or spouse.
The JP may also order that the defendant not consume any alcohol or non-prescription drugs and submit to drug testing if an officer believes they have consumed drugs or alcohol. There may be an order that the defendant not owns any weapons or hold a licence to own a weapon. This can be very significant for people who hunt for their livelihood, and the defendant should consider this carefully before he or she signs the peace bond.
Will I get a criminal record if I sign a peace bond?
If a complainant lays a peace bond against a defendant, the defendant has not been charged with a criminal offence. By signing the peace bond, the defendant is not pleading guilty to an offence, as they have not been charged.
In some cases, people who have been charged with an offence may enter into a peace bond in exchange for the Crown withdrawing the charges against them. Once again, a defendant who agrees to sign the peace bond is not pleading guilty to the criminal offence for which they have been charged. The defendant will not receive a criminal record or, in the case of a defendant who already has a criminal record, will not receive an additional conviction to that criminal record.
It is very important to remember that signing a peace bond is making a promise to the court. If the defendant does not comply with any of the conditions, that person will be guilty of disobeying a court order (formally called a “breach of recognizance”). A person who is convicted of breaching a recognizance can be sentenced to up to four years in prison. Being convicted of breaching the peace bond will certainly result in a criminal record, so it is important to comply with all conditions that the court orders.
Taking the Appropriate Steps
As mentioned before, obtaining legal advice is a good first step in obtaining a peace bond. Applying for a peace bond can be a confusing process, and the prospect of peace bond hearings in the criminal court can be overwhelming. Lakin Afolabi Law Professional Corporation is available to assist you throughout this procedure. Call them today at (519) 654-6969 or book a consultation online.