I've Been Charged with a Criminal (or Youth) Offence and Want to Change My Release Conditions so I Can Have Contact with My Spouse or Children
If you are arrested for a criminal or youth offence against another person or their property, a police officer, a justice of the peace or a judge may release you on conditions that you have limited or no contact with that person. This is often called a no contact order.
A judge may also impose a no contact order as a term of probation if you plead (or are found guilty) of an offence.
If a no contact order causes a problem for you, you can apply to a court to have those conditions changed.
(For general information on being charged with a criminal or youth offence, see "I've Been Charged with a Criminal (or Youth) Offence and Have to Go to Court" in this Guide.)
If the conditions you want to change were put there by the police or a justice of the peace
- Get and fill out an Application to a Judge form. You can get the form from a court registry. You can find the address and contact information for a court registry through Service BC by calling 1-800-663-7867. You may want to have a lawyer or advocate assist you with filling out the application.
- On the Application to a Judge form, tick off the box marked "To replace Form 11.1 Undertaking Given to a Peace Officer/Officer in Charge [Sec.499(3), 503(2.2)]." Under the heading "The reasons on which the application is based are as follows,” put your reasons for wanting to have contact.
- If you believe contact is not only in your best interests but also in the best interests of your family or the person you are alleged to have offended against (the complainant), say why. Say why contact would be helpful to both you and the complainant — for example, to arrange access to your children, to assist with parenting and household duties, to allow for family counselling, to provide needed transportation, etc.
- Find out a date when the court is sitting in your area and can hear your application. You may have been given a court date already, but if that is too far in the future, you can request an earlier date.
- Attend at the Court Registry with your Application to a Judge. They will set a date for your application based on your schedule. They will then give you a copy of the Application. Take the application to the Crown Counsel office in the Courthouse and give it to the Crown or Assistant.
What happens next
Crown Counsel will consider your request to change the no contact order. Almost all the time, they will ask the complainant his or her views.
On the court date set for your application, the judge will ask you for more information about your request. The judge will also ask for Crown Counsel’s views. If the complainant is in court, the judge may ask for his or her views as well.
After hearing all about the application, the judge may decide to change the no contact order or leave it the same.
If you do not like the decision of the judge about your application, you can appeal it to a higher court. Consult a lawyer if you want to appeal.
If the no contact order was put there by a judge
If it was a judge that put the no contact order in place at a bail hearing, then the order can only be changed later by a judge of that court if the Crown Counsel agrees that the judge can listen to your application. It can also be appealed to a higher court if Crown Counsel does not agree, but you will need a lawyer's help to do this. You can find a lawyer to help through your local Legal Services Society (Legal Aid) office.
What happens next
If the Crown Counsel does not agree that the judge can listen to your application, then you must appeal the judge’s order to a higher court. Consult a lawyer if you want to appeal.
The Crown Counsel may agree that the judge can listen to your application, but may not agree with the change you are asking for. If this is the case, the judge will listen to your application, and may decide to change the conditions or leave them the same.
Where to get help
See the Resource List in this Guide for a list of helpful resources. Your best bets are:
- Service BC at 1-800-663-7867 for the location and number of court registries and Crown Counsel offices in British Columbia. If the offence took place in a different province or territory of Canada, Service BC may be able to provide you with the general enquiry number for that province or territory.
- Criminal duty counsel, for assistance on the day you have to appear in court.
- Native Courtworkers and First Nations Court Duty Counsel for aboriginal clients.
- Lawyer Referral Service and private bar lawyers.
- The Clicklaw common question "I've been charged with a crime. How do I defend myself?."
- The fact sheet series "Defending Yourself" from Legal Services Society.
Before meeting with a lawyer or advocate, complete the form Preparing for Your Interview included in this Guide. Make sure you bring copies of all documents relating to your case.
|In almost all cases, a no contact order prohibits direct or indirect communication. Direct communication includes contact with the complainant in person, by phone, Skype, email, texting, etc. Indirect communication means sending messages to that person through a third party such as a friend or children. Remember that you are at risk. If you are found communicating with the complainant (even if they start or want the contact) you — not the complainant — may be charged with the criminal offence of breach of bail or breach of probation. If you absolutely need to communicate something to the complainant, speak with a lawyer first.|
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Lisa J. Helps, May 2017.|
|Legal Help for British Columbians © Cliff Thorstenson and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.|
In law, in British Columbia a person under the age of 19.
Something which can be owned. See "chattels" and "real property."
A court official appointed by the provincial government with limited decision-making authority and jurisdiction, usually charged with managing court schedules, the terms of release of arrested persons, and other administrative tasks with a discretionary element. See "judge" and "jurisdiction."
A person appointed by the federal or provincial government to manage and decide court proceedings in an impartial manner, independent of influence by the parties, the government, or agents of the government. The decisions of a judge are binding upon the parties to the proceeding, subject to appeal.
A central office, located in each judicial district, at which the court files for each court proceeding in that district are maintained, and at which legal documents can be filed, searched, and reviewed.
A person licensed to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. See "barrister and solicitor."
A lawyer or a person other than a lawyer who helps clients with legal issues; to argue a position on behalf of a client.
A request to the court that it make a specific order, usually on an interim or temporary basis, also called a "chambers application" or a "motion." See also "interim application" and "relief."
Under the Divorce Act, the schedule of a parent's time with their children under an order or agreement. Access usually refers to the schedule of the parent with the least amount of time with the child. See "custody."
In law, the federal and provincial governments and their departments and agencies. Lawyers employed by the federal and provincial governments to prosecute criminal offences.
In law, any proceeding before a judicial official to determine questions of law and questions of fact, including the hearing of an application and the hearing of a trial. See "decision" and "evidence."
In law, a judge's conclusions after hearing argument and considering the evidence presented at a trial or an application; a judgment; the judge's reasons. A judge's written or oral decision will include the judge's conclusions about the relief or remedies claimed as well as their findings of fact and conclusions of law. A written decision is called the judge’s "reasons for judgment." See "common law," "conclusions of law," and "findings of fact."
An application to a higher court for a review of the correctness of a decision of a lower court. A decision of a judge of the Provincial Court of British Columbia can be appealed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. A decision of a judge of the Supreme Court can be appealed to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia.
A mandatory direction of the court, binding and enforceable upon the parties to a court proceeding. An "interim order" is a temporary order made following the hearing of an interim application. A "final order" is a permanent order, made following the trial of the court proceeding or the parties' settlement, following which the only recourse open to a dissatisfied party is to appeal. See "appeal," "consent order," "decision," and "declaration."
In law, a court proceeding; a lawsuit; an action; a cause of action; a claim. Also the historic decisions of the court. See "action," "case law, " "court proceeding," and "precedent."