Protection Orders – Part 3: A Basic Guide to Peace Bonds
Peace Bonds can help protect you against anybody who makes you feel threatened. A Peace Bond is a protection order made in the criminal court system by a judge, or justice of the peace. Protection Orders are decisions by a judge that put restrictions on someone’s behaviour. Orders are legally binding, which means they have to be followed. It can only be issued for a maximum time of one year.
A peace bond can:
- limit or prevent the abuser from contacting you or your children;
- prevent the abuser from coming to your work, home or children’s school;
- protect property;
- protect pets;
- keep the abuser’s friends or family from calling on his behalf.
Who can get a Peace Bond?
If you are afraid that someone will hurt you, your spouse or common-law partner, your children or harm your property, you can apply for a Peace Bond even if no criminal charges have been laid. Unlike a Restraining Order, you do not need to have lived with the person in order to get a Peace Bond against that person.
A Peace Bond can be issued for a time period of up to 12 months. You have to apply for another Peace Bond if you need protection for more than 12 months.
How do I get a Peace Bond?
In Ontario, applications for Peace Bonds are made at the local provincial court. To get more information about applying for a Peace Bond, you can contact the police. Peace Bonds are usually more successful if the police are involved, but they do not have to be involved in order to ask for a Peace Bond. You can call your local courthouse and ask the clerk to make an appointment with a Justice of the Peace (JP). You will have to prove to the JP that your personal safety is at risk or that your property is at risk. If the JP agrees with your concern, they will issue a summons, which tells the other person to appear in court on a specific date. A justice of the peace can be contacted by calling a local criminal courthouse and speaking with the clerk to make an appointment.
What you will need:
The JP must believe on a “balance of probabilities” that your fear is reasonable. This means that the JP must find that it is more likely than not that an individual in your same situation would be afraid or threatened. In order to show that you are reasonably afraid, you must have evidence (proof). Personal threats, violence towards you or your family, and damage or threats of damage to your property are considered evidence. It is important to document (write down details about) any harassing or abusive behavior:
- document every time the individual engages in unwanted or threatening contact with you or members of your family (make sure to keep this record safe)
- keep any evidence of abuse such as hospital records or photographs
- document each time the person has damaged your property or has threatened to damage your property
- keep a list of witnesses to any harassing behavior such as neighbours or friends. Have these individuals tell their stories to the police
- save as many gifts, emails, voicemail messages and text messages showing the unwanted behaviour as possible.
The person you are seeking the Peace Bond against will also have the opportunity to present their side of the story if they do not agree to the terms of the Peace Bond. It may take several weeks to get a Peace Bond. You may be able to ask for an urgent Peace Bond if you are in immediate danger.
What are Mutual Peace Bonds?
Sometimes, JPs will issue Mutual Peace Bonds which are orders that place conditions on your behavior, as well as on the behaviour of the person you are seeking protection from. It will often say that neither of you can contact the other person. It is NOT recommended that women sign mutual Peace Bonds without speaking with a lawyer first. Some abusers use mutual Peace Bonds to continue to harass their partners or former partners. For example, your abuser may try to trick you into having contact and then call the police and say that you did not follow the Order. Breaking a Peace Bond is a criminal offence and you can be criminally charged.
What happens after a Peace Bond has been issued?
If a Peace Bond has been ordered, you should make several copies. Keep one copy with you at all times and consider giving other copies to your places of employment, your school, and your child’s daycare or school. If you need to change the terms of your Peace Bond, you will need to bring a new action before a JP with new information and evidence outlining the details of your current situation.
What happens if a Peace Bond is not followed?
If a peace bond is not followed (breached), call the police immediately and consider going to a safe place, such as to a women’s shelter, or to a friend or family member’s home. Breaching a Peace Bond is a criminal offence and the person who breaches it may be required to serve jail time.
BE AWARE: Sometimes the police are not helpful in enforcing these Orders. They may refuse to press charges or may minimize the complaints. If the officer you speak with acts inappropriately, ask to speak to a supervisor or talk to the Victim Witness Assistance Program (VWAP) staff. You can find your local VWAP office at 1-888-579-2888.
Differences between a Restraining Order and Peace Bond
|Restraining Orders||Peace Bonds|
|Available against:||A spouse or partner you live with or former spouse/partner||Anyone|
|Duration:||Temporary (up to several years) or permanent||One year maximum|
|Application Process:||Written||In Person|
|Length of Time Between Application and Issuance:||Several weeks||Between a few days and several months|
|Available if Property is as Risk||No||Yes|
Will a Peace Bond show up on a Criminal Record Check?
A Peace Bond is not the same as a criminal charge or a conviction for an offence. Often, a person who has been charged with a less serious crime will agree to enter a Peace Bond is to avoid a criminal record. But, a Peace Bond will appear on a criminal record check while it is still in effect. After the Peace Bond has expired, it should not be visible in a regular criminal record check. But, there are certain types of criminal record searches, such as a “vulnerable person check” where the record of the Peace Bond will still show up even after it has expired.