In some cases when defending domestic assault, the accused may be asked to sign a peace bond before the crown will withdraw the charges. While this may seem like a reasonable request, there are potential consequences for the person signing the peace bond that requires careful consideration.
In this post, we’ll discuss peace bonds, the process of getting a peace bond, and the potential impacts and penalties if you break one.
WHAT IS A PEACE BOND?
A peace bond is an order by a judge in a criminal court to protect someone who believes you will damage their property, hurt them, their spouse, partner, or child, or share an intimate video or image of them without permission. The person does not have to have a prior relationship with you.
By signing a peace bond, you agree to keep the peace and not do anything to break the law or the peace bond conditions. Sometimes, the court may add restrictions or conditions to your peace bond that you must adhere to.
Some examples include:
- You agree to pay money to the court if you break your peace bond conditions
- You do not contact a specific person
- You do not visit a specific location or person
- You agree to keep the peace
- Any other restrictions the court feels will prevent further harm
WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR BEING SERVED A PEACE BOND?
To obtain a peace bond, a person must demonstrate before the court that they have reason to believe you will hurt them or their family, their property, or share an intimate image of them without consent.
In charges of domestic assault, The Crown may also require you to agree to a peace bond before withdrawing charges. This is usually only after consulting with the complainant and the police. A complainant cannot drop the charges; that is the decision of the crown attorney who is prosecuting the case.
You may be asked to sign a peace bond and receive a summons to appear in court. If you do not sign, you may have to go to a hearing. If the person has enough evidence against you at the hearing, the court will order a peace bond, which you must sign. Failure to agree to a peace bond can mean a jail term of up to one year.
If you sign a peace bond, you are agreeing that the person filing for the bond has a reasonable fear you will hurt them or their family, damage their property or release an intimate image or video of them without consent. If you don’t agree to this, you cannot sign.
DOES A PEACE BOND MEAN I HAVE A CRIMINAL RECORD?
Signing a peace bond is not an admission of guilt or a conviction, and it does not give you a criminal record. It may, however, show up on other records such as a Judicial Records Check, CPEC system, or a Vulnerable Sector Check, which could have an impact on travel to the US or in working with vulnerable communities.
A peace bond could also be used against the accused in family court as proof that there is an issue or reason to be concerned about their behaviour, impacting their access to children or limiting custody.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I BREAK A PEACE BOND?
Most peace bonds last for one year where you must agree to keep the peace and your bond’s conditions. If you are charged with another offence while you are under a peace bond, even if it has nothing to do with the same matter, you will be charged under Section 811 of the criminal code and can forfeit any money you promised or paid to the court. If you do not follow the peace bond conditions, you can be charged with a criminal offence of disobeying an order of the court of recognizance.
HOW A LAWYER CAN HELP
It is essential to have a lawyer advise you before you agree to a peace bond. You should also get a lawyer to defend you at your hearing to avoid signing a peace bond in the first place, so you don’t have to face a stain on your permanent record.
If you have questions about what signing a peace bond means for your case or want help defending your case at a hearing, you need experienced legal counsel. William Jaksa has over a decade of experience fighting for clients in domestic assault cases and can advise you on the best possible outcome for your case. Contact William Jaksa today for a consultation.