Peace bonds are a very old process enshrined in our law. Also known as recognizances, they were once part of the English common law and are now found in section 810 of the Criminal Code of Canada .
A person who believes, subjectively, that another person will injure them, or another member of their family, or cause damage to their property may apply for a peace bond. A form called an information, setting out the particulars and grounds for the belief must be completed and sworn to before an officer of the court designated a justice of the peace. If the justice is satisfied of the merits of doing so, he or she can issue a summons to be served upon the subject of the application (the respondent), requiring the respondent to appear before a judge at a time that will be made known to both the applicant and the respondent.
If the matter is not resolved by agreement on the first appearance in Court, the matter will be set down for a heading in which both sides will be entitled to present evidence, call witnesses, and make submissions. The applicant must satisfy the judge, on a balance of probabilities, not only of their subjectively held fear, but that such fear, viewed objectively, is reasonably held. If the applicant is successful in meeting that onus the judge will order the respondent to enter into a recognizance for up to 12 months, and upon such conditions as the judge might direct.
If a peace bond is ordered, the judge must consider whether to impose a firearms prohibition as a condition. If the judge declines to do so, he or she must give reasons for this decision.
Peace bonds are preventative, rather than punitive, in nature, but for failure or refusal to sign a peace bond a person might be committed for up to 12 months imprisonment for the failure or default. Accordingly, being ordered to enter a peace bond is not a conviction for the purposes of a criminal record, but a conviction for breach of a peace bond is a criminal conviction under Section 811 of the Criminal Code of Canada and can result in imprisonment.
The informant (person applying for the peace bond) and/or the defendant (person against whom the peace bond is being applied) may have a lawyer present for these proceedings if they wish.
Applications for peace bonds should be filed in the area closest to where the events are alleged to have occurred. See a listing of court centres here. Applications can be obtained from any Provincial Court location or downloaded on this website.
There are two reasons why you might apply:
- Because you fear that another person may do you or your family some personal injury.
- Because you fear that another person may damage your property.
Complete the form and return it to the Court. Include your name, address and telephone number on the application. Also include the name, address, and, if possible, the telephone number and birth date of the person you are seeking to have placed under the bond.
The Court will then advise you of the date this matter will be heard before the judge. The Court will also issue a summons to the person you are seeking to be placed under the bond to appear in Court at that time. On the date set, the informant must appear in the courtroom before the judge presiding and present his or her case, otherwise the matter will be dismissed. If the defendant fails to appear, a warrant will be issued for his or her arrest.