What You Should Know About Peace Bonds

Written on behalf of Barrison Law
Handcuffed person representing entering into a peace bond

Peace bonds are a unique and proactive tool that helps maintain public safety and individual well-being. They are often used as a way to peacefully resolve a criminal matter while helping an accused avoid a conviction or criminal record for a particular offence. While not widely discussed in everyday conversations, peace bonds are pivotal in preventing potential harm and conflicts before they escalate.

This blog will explore the intricacies of peace bonds in Ontario, shedding light on what they entail, how they are obtained, and the implications they carry for the individual against whom the bond is sought.

What is a Peace Bond?

A peace bond is a court order, issued by a judicial officer, that requires an individual to exhibit good behaviour and maintain peace for a specified period of time. In Canada, a person (referred to as the “complainant”) may lay a peace bond against another individual (referred to as the “defendant”). The effect of a peace bond is that it is a signed order between the parties, under which the defendant promises to obey a particular set of rules for a specified period of time.

Each peace bond is unique and will outline a tailored set of terms limiting a certain individual’s ability to contact certain people or go to certain locations. Additional terms, such as limitations on alcohol consumption, mandatory counselling attendance, or limitations on contact and communication with certain individuals may be imposed.

Statutory peace bond

A statutory peace bond may be issued under section 810 of the Criminal Code of Canada (the “Criminal Code“). Before a statutory peace bond may be issued, a complainant must have ongoing fear and reasonable grounds to fear that another individual may cause harm to them or someone they know. A statutory peace bond may only have a maximum duration of one year. Statutory peace bonds are often used in cases involving domestic violence.

Common law peace bond

A peace bond may also be executed based on the common law rather than a statute. In these cases, a complainant does not need to have an ongoing or current fear of the accused. Instead, they only require a reasonable basis to believe that the accused may breach the peace. A common law peace bond is typically imposed for a period of up to one year.

The Peace Bond Process

Once a complainant has applied for a peace bond, a judicial officer will review information about the circumstances giving rise to the application. If the judicial officer is satisfied that the personal safety of the complainant or someone they know is at risk, the accused may be ordered to enter into a recognizance, meaning that they will be mandated to comply with the order conditions and exhibit good behaviour. In order for a complainant to obtain a peace bond, they will generally be required to speak with a police officer to determine whether their fear of the defendant is ongoing.

What Happens if I Enter Into a Peace Bond?

If you are facing criminal charges and enter into a peace bond, the charges may be dropped. However, if you breach the peace bond, you may face criminal charges and the breach will show up on a criminal record. A peace bond will be enforced across the country by police officers. When you enter into a peace bond, you will need to pledge a certain amount of money that serves as an incentive to comply with the conditions of the peace bond. If the peace bond is breached, the pledged amount may be required to be paid to the court.

Does signing a peace bond mean I am guilty?

Importantly, entering into a peace bond is not analogous to a criminal conviction or admission of guilt, but rather, it signifies that the court made a finding that there was a reasonable basis to believe that you would breach the peace. As such, if you agree to the peace bond, the prosecution will withdraw the criminal charges.

Does a peace bond show up on my criminal record?

A peace bond will not appear on a criminal record check if it is complied with, however, it may appear as a “police record” which might impact your ability to obtain certain types of employment. On a vulnerable sector check, a peace bond may show up as an “outstanding entry” even after the peace bond expires.

Can a peace bond be used against me?

The prosecution may be less likely to offer a peace bond to you a second time. A prior peace bond may also be considered if you are facing charges in the future. The facts forming the basis of the peace bond will be read on to the record, however, if you tell the court that the facts are not admitted but simply form the basis for entering into the peace bond, they may not be used against you in future as truths.

What happens if I breach a peace bond?

You must adhere to the conditions outlined in the peace bond and not breach the law during the term that the peace bond is in effect. If you breach the terms of a statutory peace bond, you can face criminal charges under section 811 of the Criminal Code, resulting in up to four years in jail. If you breach a common law peace bond, this is known as “disobeying a court order” and you can face the same maximum penalty.

If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defence lawyer who can advise you of your options and the implications of entering into a peace bond.

Contact the Criminal Defence Lawyers at Barrison Law for Trusted Advice on Peace Bonds and Breach of Court Conditions

The knowledgeable criminal defence lawyers at Barrison Law regularly advise clients of their rights and options when defending against charges relating to murder, assault, property offences, and breach of court conditions. Our office is conveniently located across the street from the Durham Consolidated Courthouse and our firm represents clients throughout the Durham Region and surrounding areas. To speak with one of our criminal defence lawyers, call our office at 905-404-1947 or contact us online.