Peace Bonds and Assault Charges (No. 217)
|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 someone threatens to hurt you or damage your property, a peace bond can offer protection. Learn how they work, and the steps involved in applying for a peace bond.
Understand your legal rights
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. Not following the conditions in a peace bond is a crime.
In a criminal case, the prosecutor may offer a peace bond to deal with criminal charges against someone.
As well, anyone can apply for a peace bond against another person. If you are afraid a person will hurt you or your family or damage your property, you can go to court to ask for a peace bond.
You can apply for a peace bond against anyone
Under section 810 of the Criminal Code, you can apply for 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.
To get a peace bond, you must prove 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.
If the court agrees there is enough evidence, they will summons the person to come to court for a peace bond hearing.
Applying for a peace bond
With the help of 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 yours fears are reasonable, they will draft a peace bond with a list of conditions. They will contact the person to ask if they are willing to agree to the peace bond. In most cases, people agree to sign the peace bond. If the person does not agree, a peace bond hearing can be set, where a judge decides whether the peace bond is appropriate.
Applying on your own
Any person may apply to court themselves for a peace bond against another person. We explain the steps in the process shortly.
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.
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 (no. 215) 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 a jail term of up to four years. 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.
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.
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.
The steps in applying for a peace bond
Step 1. Laying an “information”
Any person may apply to court themselves for a peace bond against another person. The process begins at your local Provincial Court registry. You complete a document, called an “information”, saying why you need the peace bond. The information is a sworn statement you complete in front of a justice of the peace. This is a court officer who deals with process matters.
In the information, you need to show why you have a reasonable fear the other person will hurt you or your family, damage your property, or share an intimate image or video of you without your consent.
Step 2. The person is summoned to court
If the justice of the peace agrees there is enough evidence to support a peace bond, they will summons the person to come to court.
Depending on the details you give the justice of the peace, they may issue a warrant so the police can arrest the person. If they do, the court may decide to release the person on conditions, such as they not contact you or go to your home or work.
When the person comes to court, they are asked to sign the peace bond, agreeing to a list of conditions. The conditions can include staying away from particular people or places, not using drugs or alcohol, and not having weapons.
Step 3. The peace bond hearing
If the person refuses to sign the peace bond, there will be a peace bond hearing before a judge. At the hearing, you will need 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:
- dismiss the application if they think your fear is unreasonable, or
- order the person to sign a peace bond.
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.
- Web: justice.gc.ca
The Legal Services Society website includes the publication “For Your Protection: Peace Bonds and Family Law Protection Orders”.
- Web: legalaid.bc.ca
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