Peace Bonds and Assault Charges

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This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Paul Briggs, Paul Briggs Law and Jordan Allingham, Ferguson Allingham in June 2018.

If you fear for your safety, a peace bond can offer protection. Learn how they work, and what’s involved in seeking a peace bond.

What you should know

With a peace bond, a person promises to keep the peace

A peace bond is a court order designed to keep someone from committing a crime. The person signs (or enters into) the peace bond, agreeing to “keep the peace and be of good behaviour” and obey certain conditions — for example, to not contact someone or visit certain places.

In a criminal case, the prosecutor (also known as Crown counsel) may offer a peace bond to deal with criminal charges against someone.

As well, anyone can seek a peace bond against another person. If you are afraid a person will hurt you or your family or damage your property, you can contact the police to seek a peace bond. More on this in a moment.

If your situation is urgent

Obtaining a peace bond may take several weeks or even months, so peace bonds do not deal with emergencies. In an emergency, call 9-1-1.

You can seek a peace bond against anyone

Under section 810 of the Criminal Code, you can seek a peace bond against anyone. It could be a partner or family member. But it doesn't have to be someone you were in a relationship with. For example, you could apply for a peace bond against a neighbour or co-worker.

A peace bond may be the best option for you if the person you are seeking protection from does not fall within the definition of “family member” in the Family Law Act. If the person you are seeking protection from is someone you think may fall within the definition of “family member,” you may be able to get a family law protection order instead.

What you must show to get a peace bond

To get a peace bond, you must show you have a reasonable fear the other person will:

  • hurt you or someone in your family,
  • damage your property, or
  • share an intimate image or video of you without your consent.

It is not enough to say only that you are personally afraid; the court must find that a reasonable person in the same situation would also be afraid.

If the court agrees there is enough evidence, they will summons the person to come to court for a peace bond hearing. More on this below.

Pursuing assault charges

If a person hurts you or threatens to hurt you, you can also ask the police to charge the person with assault.

Assault is when one person applies force to another person, or attempts or threatens to apply force to them without their consent. Assault is a crime even if you're not hurt, and sometimes even if you were not actually touched.

Depending on the situation, a person can be charged with assault, assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm, or aggravated assault. A charge of assault causing bodily harm, for example, might be laid if you need medical treatment for your injuries.

See our information on charging someone with a criminal offence for the steps involved in pursuing an assault charge.

If a person disobeys a peace bond

If the person who enters into a peace bond disobeys the conditions in the peace bond, call the police. Police can arrest the person and charge them with a criminal offence. That could lead to the person being fined or placed on probation, or in some cases even jailed. As well, it could lead to a criminal record. (A peace bond itself is not a criminal conviction.)

A peace bond can be enforced anywhere in Canada.

Ending a peace bond

A peace bond will have an end date on it. Most peace bonds last for one year. Police cannot enforce a peace bond after it has ended.

When a peace bond ends, you need to go back to court if you want a new peace bond. You do not need to wait for the peace bond to end before applying again.

A peace bond can't be cancelled.

Seeking a peace bond

Step 1. Contact the police

If you are afraid a person will hurt you or your family or damage your property, you can contact the police.

The police can gather information from you and others. This will help them assess whether to recommend a peace bond or criminal charges.

Give the police as many details as possible of why you are afraid. Give them any records that show your fear is reasonable — any concerning voicemails, emails, text messages, or social media posts from the person, or any notes you made of interactions with the person. Give police the names of any witnesses who have seen the threatening behaviour.

If the police agree that your fears are reasonable, they will prepare a report for Crown counsel. This is a lawyer employed by the provincial government to prosecute cases.

Getting a peace bond without police help

If the police are unwilling to help, you do have another option, though it may be difficult. You can go to a courthouse and ask the court registry for help in completing the correct forms for a peace bond. In general, court registry staff will contact Crown counsel who will then pass the matter back to police for further investigation. Still, this approach can result in Crown reviewing your case and making the request to police.

Step 2. A process hearing

If the Crown counsel agrees that a peace bond is necessary, a process hearing will be scheduled. This hearing happens without the other person present. The Crown will explain the evidence to the court. If the judge is satisfied that the information provided meets the test for a peace bond, then a peace bond hearing will be set.

Step 3. The peace bond hearing

At the peace bond hearing, a judge will decide whether to impose the peace bond. The person you seek protection from will be summoned to appear.

The hearing may unfold in one of two ways.

The person may agree to enter into the peace bond and to the conditions presented. If that happens, then no evidence will be presented to the judge.

If the person does not agree to the peace bond, Crown counsel will then present evidence to the judge. This will typically involve you needing to testify (tell your story), indicating the reasons for your fear. You can have a lawyer represent you during the hearing, but you don’t have to.

At the end of the hearing, the judge will decide whether you have reasonable grounds to fear the other person. If the judge finds your fears are reasonable, they will order the peace bond.

Ask for copy of the peace bond

Ask for a certified copy of the peace bond. Keep it with you at all times. If the other person doesn’t follow the conditions in the peace bond, the police need to see the order before they can do anything. If the peace bond says the person can’t contact your child, give a copy to your child’s teacher or principal. They can show it to the police if the person tries to pick up your child from school.

Who can help

With more information

The federal Department of Justice website includes information on victim’s rights, including a fact sheet on applying for a peace bond.

The Legal Aid BC website includes the publication “For Your Protection: Peace Bonds and Family Law Protection Orders”.

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