Protection Orders – Part 1
If you are afraid of another person, you can try to get a Protection Order (also called a No Contact Order) to protect yourself. An Order is a decision by a judge that puts restrictions on someone’s behaviour. This article will discuss the different types of protection orders.
If someone’s actions are making you feel unsafe, even if that person is a friend or a family member, there are both personal and legal strategies that you can use to protect yourself. There are laws to help protect you if someone makes you feel threatened because they:
- repeatedly follow you or a member of your family from place to place
- threaten or hurt you or a member of your family
- damage your property or the property of a family member
- repeatedly attempt to contact you when that contact is unwanted
- repeatedly show up at your home, school or place of work
How can the legal system help?
You can get a Protection Order from a judge, or justice of the peace. There are different types of Protection Orders. Orders are legally binding, which means they have to be followed. Depending on the type of Order, a Protection Order can say that the person who is scaring you cannot:
- go near or contact you or members of your family
- go to certain places such as your home, workplace, or school
- carry a gun
- contact your children
It is important to remember that Protection Orders only work if the abuser follows the Order. These Orders are not criminal charges, but it is a crime to disobey a Protection Order. A Protection Order can be an important piece of a safety plan, but it is not a guarantee that you will be safe.
What are the different types of Protection Orders?
There are three different types of Protection Orders available:
Restraining Order: A Restraining Order is a legal Order from the family court system that says that a person cannot do certain things, such as contact you or come near you or your children. In Ontario, you can get a Restraining Order against a person you are or were married to or a partner or former partner that you have lived with. It does not matter how long you lived with the person. If the person disobeys the Restraining Order, they may face criminal charges or be forced to pay a fine.
Peace Bond: A Peace Bond is a signed promise to be on good behaviour and can put restrictions on a person’s behaviour. It is similar to a Restraining Order. But, a Peace Bond is from the criminal court system. You can get a Peace Bond against anyone that you are afraid will harm you, your family or your property. It can say that a person cannot contact you, come near you and/or carry a firearm etc. Peace Bonds can only be issued for up to one (1) year. If the person breaks the Peace Bond, they may face criminal charges or be forced to pay a fine.
Bail Conditions or ‘Terms of Release’: Bail Conditions (also called ‘Terms of Release’) are another type of Court Order that puts restrictions on a person’s behaviour when they are released from police custody into the community. Bail Conditions can be used to help protect you from someone who is getting out of jail, either on bail before a trial, or on probation after serving jail time.
Once I get a Protection Order, how can I stay safe?
One strategy is to make a safety plan using both public resources and help from individuals you trust. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Consider telling your employers, family, and friends, as well as your child’s teachers and daycare supervisors if you are being harassed or have a Protection Order against someone
- Keep your personal information private. Do not give out your Social Insurance Number unless you need to for banking or income tax purposes. Also, be sure to remove any personal information such as names and addresses from social media sites, emails, and old mail before you throw it away. This information may be used to track you.
- Consider getting an unlisted phone number.
- Ask friends and family members if you can call them for support or if they will take you somewhere safe if you need help.
- Keep your keys and important documents with you in case you need to leave in a hurry.
Who can I contact for help or for more information?
Women’s Organizations are staffed by individuals who understand issues related to violence against women. These organizations have useful information on protection orders, how to find a local lawyer, and how to talk to the police or judges.
Consider telling the police your story and that you feel you are in danger. Keep in mind that talking to the police may mean they will lay a criminal charge against the person you are complaining about — even if you do not want them to.
Justice of the Peace
Not everyone is comfortable talking to the police. You can apply for a Peace Bond by meeting with a justice of the peace. The police do not have to be involved. Contact your local criminal courthouse to find a justice of the peace, or if you are comfortable, you can also contact your local police station.
If you can afford a lawyer or if you qualify for legal aid, it can be very helpful to get legal counsel when you are trying to obtain a protection order.