In Canada, a peace bond is a type of protection order but is not a restraining order. It is an order issued by the court, requiring that an individual keep the peace and be of good behaviour and not breach the peace. There are two different types of peace bonds in Canada. The first is a section 810 peace bond and the second is a common law peace bond. This page will focus on common law peace bonds.
For more information on section 810 law peace bonds please click here.
Peace bonds, both common law and section 810, are the lowest sentencing option available to those who have been charged with a criminal offence. Technically, a peace bond is not a finding of guilt, so it is not a true sentencing option. An individual who is granted a peace bond does not a criminal record and has not been found guilty of a criminal offence. Instead, the accused simply agrees to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a specified period of time.
What is a Common Law Peace Bond?
A common law peace bond is protection order put in place by the court, ordering that the subject of the peace bond does not breach the peace. A common law peace bond is broader in scope than a section 810 peace bond, and it is not necessary that a sworn Information be laid. This means that common law peace bonds can be granted in a wider variety of situations than the section 810 peace bond.
A common law peace bond may be granted where the court is satisfied that the complainant has a reasonable apprehension that the accused may breach the peace. A peace bond does not mean that the accused has committed a criminal offence and it is not a criminal conviction.
What is a Breach of the Peace?
The Court has not provided an exhaustive list of actions or omissions that constitute a breach of the peace. Instead, this is decided on a case-by-case basis. A breach of the peace occurs where there is actual harm, or threat of harm to someone. Actions that constitute a breach of the peace may not be illegal on their own.
Who can get a Common Law Peace Bond?
To be granted a common law peace bond, it is not necessary that the accused committed a criminal offence. It is also not necessary that the complainant has on-going fear of the accused. Common law peace bonds are seen as preventative, in the sense that the court may issue a common law peace bond where there are reasonable grounds to believe the accused may commit a criminal act in the near future, or breach the peace.
To be granted a common law peace bond, the complainant must reasonably believe that the accused is going to breach the peace. The complainant must provide proof to the court, in the form of evidence, that they have a reasonable apprehension that the accused is going to breach the peace. The court cannot rely on conjecture or speculation.
Common Law Peace Bonds as a Sentencing Option
In practice, common law peace bonds are often granted when an individual is charged criminally, but the allegations are not serious enough to warrant a criminal conviction. The Crown may also agree to a peace bond where there are serious issues with the Crown’s case.
Common law peace bonds are often granted in cases involving minor assaults or thefts. For example, an individual charged with assault after grabbing their intimate partner on the arm may be granted a peace bond due to the very minor nature of the assault.
If the Crown agrees to a peace bond, the accused will appear in court and formally enter into the peace bond on the record. The accused will not be required to plead guilty, or to admit any criminal or civil wrongdoing. Once the accused has entered into the peace bond, the Crown will withdrawal the criminal charge against the accused.
How Long does a Common Law Peace Bond Last?
A common law peace bond can last for as long as the issuing court orders. There is no minimum or maximum timeline.
What Happens if you Breach a Condition of a Common Law Peace Bond?
By signing a peace bond, the subject of the peace bond is entering into a contract with the court agreeing not to breach the peace and to abide by the conditions laid out in the peace bond. The accused will also be required to pledge an amount of money to the court as part of the peace bond. If they accused breaches any conditions of the peace bond, they may be forced to pay the money pledged to the court.
Violating a condition of a peace bond is also a criminal offence. An individual who breaches a condition of their peace bond may be charged with a breach of recognizance offence or a disobeying a court order offence. In either case, the accused will face jail time, probation and/or a fine as a result of the breach. This could also lead to a criminal record for the accused.
Will a Common Law Peace Bond Appear on a Background Check?
A common law peace bond will not appear on your criminal record once it is no longer active. Entering into a peace bond does not mean you have a criminal record.
A peace bond will appear, while it’s still active, on a criminal record check, judicial matters check and vulnerable sector check. This means that if the peace bond is entered into for a period of 12 months, it will appear on a background check during that 12 month period. After the 12 month period has elapsed, the peace bond is no longer active and will no longer appear.