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. 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 section 810 peace bonds.
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 agrees that their behaviour may have caused the complainant fear and agrees to be of good behaviour.
What is a s. 810 Peace Bond?
A section 810 peace bond is a statutory order of the court to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. It is essentially a protection order issued to protect an individual from being harmed by another person. A section 810 peace bond must be issued on a sworn Information. This means that the complainant must swear to the court that they are fearful of the accused.
Section 810 of the Criminal Code provides that a peace bond may be put in place by a justice on behalf of any person, who has reasonable grounds to fear that their intimate partner, child, or themselves will be physically harmed, or their property damaged. A peace bond may also be ordered where the complainant fears that the accused will post or share intimate images without the complainant’s consent. This means that if an individual fears for their safety, the safety of their property or their family, or fears that someone is going to share intimate images of them without consent, they are eligible for a section 810 peace bond.
A peace bond does not mean the accused committed a crime. It is not a finding of guilt and does not result in a criminal record for the accused. It simply means that their behaviour has caused the complainant and the court to believe that they may commit a criminal offence in the near future. By entering into the peace bond, the accused is agreeing not to do so.
Once active, the peace bond requires that the accused keep the peace and be of goof behaviour for the duration of the peace bond. The court may also impose other conditions. In some cases, the court will also order the accused not to have contact with the complainant or the complainant’s family for the duration of the order. The court may also limit the accused’s ability to own and possess weapons or to engage in certain other behaviours.
The court will also ask the accused to pledge a certain amount of money to the court at the time the peace bond is signed. If any conditions of the peace bond are breached, the accused may be forced to pay this amount to the court. Please see below for more information on the penalties associated with breaching the conditions of a section 810 peace bond.
Who can get a Section 810 Peace Bond?
To be eligible for a section 810 peace bond, the complainant must:
- have reasonable grounds to fear for their safety or the safety of their intimate partner or child;
- have reasonable grounds to fear that the accused will damage their personal property;
- have reasonable grounds to fear that the accused will post or share intimate images of the complainant without consent.
A peace bond can either be ordered by a court as part of the criminal procedure when an individual has been charged with a criminal offence, or a complainant can apply for a peace bond on their own, without the police arresting the accused and criminally charging them. Both options are discussed below.
Section 810 Peace Bond as a Sentencing Option
In practice, section 810 peace bonds are often ordered 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.
Section 810 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 documents will be drafted and put before the court. 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.
Complainant Application for a Section 810 Peace Bond
An individual who fears for their safety or the safety of their family or property may also make an application for a peace bond without having the accused arrested. The individual (complainant) may attend the local courthouse during regular hours and speak to a Justice of the Peace. The complainant will fill out the peace bond application form which can be found online. The complainant will indicate that they fear for their safety and provide reasons which the Justice of the Peace will then consider. Processes and procedures for applying for a peace bond vary between jurisdictions.
How Long does a s. 810 Peace Bond Last?
A peace section 810 bond remains active for up to 12 months. When granting the peace bond, the court will indicate the duration. The peace bond will expire automatically at the end of the period imposed by the court. No action is required from either the complainant or the accused.
What Happens if you Breach a Condition of a s. 810 Peace Bond?
By signing a peace bond, the subject of the peace bond is entering into a contract with the court agreeing to keep the peace, be of good behaviour and 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 the 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 Section 810 Peace Bond Appear on a Background Check?
A section 810 peace bond will not appear on your criminal record once it has expired. 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 certain background checks during that 12 month period. After the 12 month period has elapsed, the peace bond is no longer active and will no longer appear on regular criminal record checks. It may continue to appear on a vulnerable sector check and still have immigration consequences.