Accepting to enter into a Peace Bond is not an admission of guilt. It is not an admissible of criminal liability or of civil liability. There is no criminal conviction registered on a criminal record and there is no finding of guilty, but there is an acknowledgement that the victim may have a concern for their safety. However, a Peace Bond will appear on a criminal record background check while it is still in effect. It should be removed and no longer visible once it has expired. There are certain types of background and criminal record searches, such as a “vulnerable person check” where an expired peace bond may still show up even after it has expired.
WHAT IS A PEACE BOND?
A Peace Bond is a Court Order to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a specific time period. Some refer to entering a peace bond as an agreement by the accused to follow the Jugde’s order. A peace bond can be entered into voluntarily through an agreement with the Crown, or it can be ordered by a Judge after a show cause hearing. There are a number of statutory conditions with every bond that include: keep the peace, be of good behaviour.
A Peace Bond requires the subject to be on good behaviour, keep the peace, attend court when and if required, and any other condition that the court believes is necessary. Often courts will add conditions such as not to possess weapons, have contact with specific people or attend specific locations depending on the circumstances and allegations.
Often when a person voluntarily enters into a bond, the Crown will withdraw charges that they have agreed to prior to signing the bond.
There are two main types of peace bonds:
- Section 810
Section 810 Peace Bonds (Statutory Peace Bond)
A section 810 bond usually applies where a person is concerned that another will cause personal injury or damage to property. It usually lasts for 12-months but can be renewed if the threat persists.
Common-Law Peace Bonds
A common law peace bond has a much wider scope of application. It can be applied where there is a belief that the subject may breach the peace more generally — rather than against a specific person or group. Usually, a common-law bond lasts for 12-months but can last longer depending on the allegations.
WILL A PEACE BOND APPEAR ON MY CRIMINAL RECORD?
One of the main reasons people agree to enter a peace bond is to avoid a criminal record. Since there is no conviction and charges are withdrawn, there is no criminal record. But you should exercise caution with an active bond.
A peace bond doesn’t appear in an ordinary criminal record check, but many appear on background security checks and vulnerable person background checks. Also, active peace bonds will be visible on police computers and customs and immigration computer systems.
US Customs and Border Officers will be able to see any active bonds and that bond will be recorded on the US system for life. That means that they will always know of that peace bond even when it’s no longer active. It is sometimes recommended not to cross the Canada-US border while on outstanding charges or while there is an active bond.
SHOULD I ACCEPT A PEACE BOND
This depends on your specific situation and is best discussed with a criminal defence lawyer. In some scenarios, a peace bond is your best option. Especially if a conviction seems likely. There are issues and circumstances surrounding future employment and travel that you will want to speak with a lawyer about.
Since an active bond can appear on a background check, it could show up to potential employers. And, as mentioned earlier, may prevent you from crossing the border. Of course, if convicted, a criminal record would cause the same issues, but it lasts longer.
To better weigh your options you should consider these factors:
The Risk of Conviction
The greater the risk of conviction at trial, the more reason you have to enter a peace bond. However, if you have a good chance of winning your defence, the bond may not be worth it. It can be inconvenient and could lead to further charges should you breach the conditions of the peace bond.
Your Criminal Record
If you already have an existing criminal record, a peace bond may have greater appeal. Often, repeat offenders face harsher sentencing if convicted. So a bond could be a good alternative.
There is potential for a peace bond to affect one’s immigration status. However, this depends on the individual situation. Your defence lawyer may be able to provide insight based on factors like whether there was an arrest if there is a criminal case, and whether the case is relevant to citizenship prohibitions.
Similarly, a bond will not necessarily affect your visa or permanent residency status.
Ability to Follow Peace Bond
Another consideration is the conditions of the bond and your ability to follow them. Should you breach the bond you could end up forfeiting the money, facing a conviction, and/or receiving jail time.
HIRE A TORONTO DEFENCE LAWYER
When facing charges for a criminal offence it’s important to hire a defence lawyer who cares about you and your rights. William Jaksa is a Toronto criminal defence lawyer who is very familiar with the criminal justice system. He has helped a number of clients receive their matters with peace bonds and common law peace bonds.
Contact William Jaksa today for a consultation.