Peace Bonds Generally
In Canada, a peace bond is an order from the court that requires a person to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, and observe any other conditions imposed by the court. If you have been charged with a criminal offence, a peace bond may be an ideal resolution, depending on your case. Peace bonds may be applicable to a variety of offences, but they are typically used in cases of assault and mischief. Entering into a peace bond essentially means making a promise to the court that you will keep the peace and observe any other conditions for a period of time, usually 12 months. Keeping the peace generally means that you must not be charged with a subsequent criminal offence while the peace bond is still in effect. Once you agree to enter into a peace bond and after you have signed the necessary paperwork at the courthouse, the charge/s against you will then be withdrawn.
2 Types of Peace Bonds in Canada
There are two types of peace bonds in Canada- section 810 peace bond and common law peace bond.
Section 810 peace bonds are statutory peace bonds that are obtained pursuant to section 810 of the Criminal Code of Canada, hence the terminology. In legal terms, a section 810 peace bond is a “Recognizance”, which is essentially a written obligation undertaken by an individual before the court to observe any conditions imposed.
A common law peace bond on the other hand, comes from the long-established authority of the judge or the court to order a person to keep the peace and maintain good behaviour.
How are the two types of peace bond different?
A section 810 peace bond is based on a sworn information laid before a court, indicating that a person has reasonable grounds to fear that another person (i.e. the accused) will cause personal injury to him or her, or cause injury to a relative (i.e. spouse, child). A section 810 peace bond may also apply if a person has reasonable grounds to believe that another person will share intimate images of them without proper consent. In short, a complainant must have present or ongoing fear of the accused. This type of peace bond can only be in effect for a maximum period of 12 months.
A common law peace bond has a broader application. It can be obtained when a court is satisfied that a person had done something that justifies an apprehension or concern that they may breach the peace in the future. In other words, ongoing fear of the accused is not necessary, as long as there is reasonable concern that they might breach the peace generally. A common law peace bond may also last more than 12 months.
What are the conditions under a peace bond?
While the common law peace bond has a broader range of application, it is similar to a section 810 peace bond in terms of the conditions that may be imposed on a person. Apart from keeping the peace and maintaining good behaviour, a peace bond may impose other conditions. These conditions may include, but are not limited to the following: no direct or indirect contact with the complainant or another person; reporting to a probation officer; attendance in assessment, counselling, and/or treatment programs; firearms or weapons prohibition; not attend at a specific address or location; and prohibition on the use or possession of alcohol or drugs.
What happens if I breach a condition of the peace bond?
If you breach a condition during the duration of the peace bond, you may be subject to a criminal charge, and you may owe an amount of money to the court.
When a person enters into a peace bond, they are sometimes asked to deposit an amount of money, which they forfeit if they breach the peace bond. More often, they are asked to pledge an amount called “no-cash deposit”, which they will have to pay to the court if they breach any of the conditions of the peace bond.
If you are under a common law peace bond, criminal charges pursuant to section 127 of the Criminal Code for disobeying a court order, may be laid against you. If you are under a section 810 peace bond, you may be charged under section 811 of the criminal code for breach of recognizance. The penalties in either case may involve jail of up to 2 years if the Crown proceeds by indictment. This goes to show that lawmakers (and the courts) frown upon breaching or disobeying court orders. It is therefore highly suggested that you consult a lawyer, who can advise you on what you can and cannot do while you are under a peace bond, and who can assist you if you have breached a peace bond,
Is it the same as pleading guilty? And will it lead to a criminal record?
Entering into a peace bond does not mean you are pleading guilty. When you enter into a peace bond, the charge/s will be withdrawn, and no conviction will be entered. This means that a conviction on the offence will not appear on a criminal record check. While entereing into a peace bond will not ultimately show on an ordinary criminal record check, and active peace bond will yield a flag on a criminal record check. It will also appear on a vulnerable sector record check, for approximately one year after the peace bond has expired, although the practice can change according to which police jurisdiction the peace bond was entered into.
When should you agree to a peace bond?
As mentioned, a person will not get a criminal record for the offence that was the subject of a peace bond. This is a guarantee that makes a peace bond appealing. In any case, there are many factors that must be considered before deciding to enter into a peace bond. These factors may include, but are not limited to the following: the strength of the Crown’s case and the risk of conviction at trial, whether you have a record, your immigration status, who the involved parties are, and the relationship of the parties.
An experienced and knowledgeable lawyer will be able to provide you with legal advice regarding this issue. If a peace bond is not yet on the table, depending on your case, a lawyer may be able to negotiate a peace bond for you. It is recommended that you consult a lawyer before you decide to accept or reject a peace bond.
For additional information about peace bonds and court orders in general, give us a call toll-free at 1-833-784-7500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.