Peace Bonds in Ontario

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[The following information regarding peace bonds in Ontario is drawn from the Steps to Justice website . Links to the website are included with each of the four steps]

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Should I sign a peace bond to deal with my criminal case?

This question has an answer and 4 steps
Reviewed:  December 1, 2017

Answer

A peace bond is an order made in a criminal law court by a judge or justice of the peace to protect someone who has a reasonable fear that you will:

  • hurt them, their spouse, their common-law partner, or their child
  • damage their property
  • distribute or share an intimate image or video of them without their permission

A peace bond requires you to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. This means you must not do anything to break the law. You may also have to follow other conditions the court thinks are necessary to prevent further harm. For example, you may not be allowed to contact the person or visit certain places.

Types of peace bonds

There are two types of peace bonds:

  • a section 810 peace bond, which can’t last more than 1 year
  • a common law peace bond, which can last more than 1 year

Section 810 peace bonds are the most common. They are sometimes called a s.810 recognizance.

Peace bonds in criminal cases

The Crown may offer you a peace bond to deal with your criminal charges if you agree to sign a peace bond. If you agree to the peace bond, they won’t pursue your criminal charges.

It’s your choice whether to agree to the peace bond. You don’t have to accept the Crown’s offer.

The Crown’s offer to deal with your charges in this way is called a resolution position.

Enforcement

If you have a peace bond, it can be enforced anywhere in Canada. Most peace bonds last for up to 1 year.

If you don’t follow the conditions of your peace bond, you can be charged with disobeying an order of the court or breach of recognizance. These are both criminal offences. You may also have to pay the court the money you promised as a security.

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Should I sign a peace bond to deal with my criminal case?

This question has an answer and 4 steps

1. Decide if you should agree to a peace bond

The Crown may offer you a peace bond to deal with less serious criminal charges like minor assault, criminal harassment, and domestic assault. The Crown will offer to withdraw or stay your charges if you agree to the peace bond.

Consider your options

Here are some reasons a peace bond may be a good option for you:

  • You do not go to trial.
  • You will not be convicted of a crime if you follow the conditions in the peace bond.

Here are some reasons a peace bond may not be a good option for you:

  • You must follow the conditions in the peace bond for as long as it’s active, which is usually 1 year.
  • You do not agree with a condition of the peace bond.  If you are charged with breach of a condition, you usually cannot defend the breach by arguing that you did not agree with the condition.
  • While it’s active, the peace bond appears on specific types of police record checks.
  • The peace bond may stop you from volunteering or working with vulnerable people. For example, you may not be allowed to work with children or senior citizens.

When you agree to a peace bond, you are not admitting that you committed an offence. But, you must be willing to admit to the court that it is reasonable for the complainant to be afraid of you. If you’re not willing to do this, you can’t agree to the peace bond.

A lawyer or duty counsel can help you:

  • Understand what a reasonable fear is. It doesn’t mean you necessarily did anything against the law.
  • Decide if a peace bond is a good way to deal with your criminal charges.

Go to trial

If you decide to go to trial instead, there is a chance you will be convicted of a crime. This can happen even if the evidence against you seems weak. This is why you might want to consider a peace bond as an option to the risk of a trial.

If you don’t agree to the peace bond, the Crown will likely continue their case against you. You can:

Talk to a lawyer or duty counsel before you decide to plead guilty or set a trial date.

Reviewed: December 1, 2017

 

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2. Review the conditions of the peace bond

The court can include conditions that you must follow as part of the peace bond.

For example, the court can order that:

  • You pay, or promise to pay, money to the court if you don’t follow any of the peace bond conditions.
  • You keep the peace and do not break the law.
  • You do not contact a specific person, their spouse, their common-law partner, or their child.
  • You do not visit a specific person, their spouse, their common-law partner, or their child.
  • You do not call, text, or send letters to a specific person, their spouse, their common-law partner, or their child.
  • You do not have any weapons, ammunition, or explosive substances.
  • You follow any other conditions the court thinks are necessary to prevent further harm.

If you don’t follow the conditions of your peace bond, you can be charged with disobeying an order of the court or breach of recognizance. These are both criminal offences. If you’re found guilty, you will likely have a criminal record. You may also have to pay any money you promised the court as a security.

Other impacts

A peace bond can also affect your job and travel. A peace bond may stop you from working with vulnerable people. For example, you may not be allowed to work with senior citizens or children. If you’ve signed a peace bond, you may have trouble crossing borders into foreign countries.

A lawyer can help you understand how signing a peace bond may affect you.

Reviewed: December 1, 2017

NEXT STEP – 3. Sign the peace bond

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3. Sign the peace bond

Before you sign the peace bond, the court asks if you want to give them reasons why the order should not be made. This is called “showing cause”.

If you’ve decided to accept the peace bond, tell the Court you do not wish to show cause. This means you freely agree to the peace bond.

Once you’ve signed the peace bond, the Crown will withdraw or stay your criminal charges.

Reviewed: December 1, 2017

NEXT STEP – 4. Follow your peace bond

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4. Follow your peace bond

A copy of the peace bond is given to the national RCMP Headquarters. A record of the order is added to the national Canadian Police Information Computer (CPIC) database.

The police can access this information during investigations. For example, they can find out about the peace bond if they do a police record check.

In most cases, you must follow your peace bond for 1 year.

If you don’t follow the conditions of your peace bond, you can be charged with disobeying an order of the court or breach of recognizance. These are both criminal offences. If you’re found guilty, you will likely have a criminal record. You may also have to pay any money you promised the court as a security.

Reviewed: December 1, 2017

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