What is a “peace bond”?
A peace bond is a court order that mandates an individual to maintain peace and exhibit good behaviour for a specified period. A negotiated peace bond can be a viable option when trying to resolve more serious criminal charges such as assault. In Canada, particularly in Ontario, there are two types of peace bonds: an s. 810 peace bond and a common law peace bond.
An s. 810 peace bond, also known as a statutory peace bond, is issued in accordance with section 810 of the Criminal Code of Canada. This type of peace bond is granted when a person has reasonable grounds to fear that another individual may cause harm to them or someone they know. The fear of the complainant must be ongoing, and the maximum duration of an s. 810 peace bond is one year.
On the other hand, a common law peace bond is based on common law rather than a statute. For the issuance of a common law peace bond, the complainant does not need to have a current or ongoing fear of the accused. A reasonable basis to believe that the accused may breach the peace generally is sufficient. While there is no maximum length for a common law peace bond, they are rarely imposed for more than one year in practice.
What are the consequences of signing a peace bond in Ontario?
Signing a peace bond in Ontario binds the accused to abide by certain conditions, with the minimum requirement being to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. This implies that the accused must not breach the law during the term of the peace bond. Additional conditions may be imposed by the court to prevent further harm. For instance, the accused may be prohibited from visiting certain places or contacting specific individuals.
A peace bond is enforceable throughout Canada, including Ontario.
What happens if I breach my peace bond?
Breaching an s. 810 peace bond is an offence under s. 811 of the Criminal Code of Canada. The severity of the breach determines the punishment, which can be a maximum of four years in jail.
Breaching a common law peace bond is a separate offence under the Criminal Code of Canada, known as “disobeying a court order”. The maximum penalty for this offence is the same as that for breaching an s. 810 peace bond.
While a person entering into a peace bond typically does not have to deposit money with the court, they do need to pledge a certain amount – usually $500 or $1000, but it can be higher or lower. This pledge serves as an incentive to comply with the conditions of the peace bond. If the conditions of the peace bond are violated, the pledged amount may have to be paid to the court.
It’s important to note that breaching a peace bond is a criminal offence and will appear on your criminal record if not successfully defended.
Is signing a peace bond an admission of guilt?
Signing a peace bond is not an admission of guilt or a criminal conviction. It is an order to maintain peace in general. When a person is ordered to enter into a peace bond, it signifies a finding by the Court that there was a basis for believing that the person would commit a breach of the peace. If the accused agrees to the peace bond, the prosecuting authority will not proceed with the criminal charges and will withdraw them.
Will a peace bond appear on my criminal record check?
A peace bond will not appear on a general criminal record check. However, it will show up as an “outstanding entry” on a vulnerable sector record check, and depending on the police force, it may continue to appear on the vulnerable record check even after the peace bond expires.
A peace bond may also appear as a “police record” and could potentially impact your chances of securing certain types of employment, particularly for individuals in nursing school or other professional programs.
Can a peace bond be used against me in future criminal proceedings?
Prosecutors have access to any record of a peace bond and may take the peace bond into consideration should you face any future charges. For instance, a prosecutor may be less likely to offer a peace bond a second time as a potential resolution.
However, since a peace bond is not a conviction or finding of guilt, the prosecutor cannot refer to the peace bond in reference to your criminal history or record.
Are there any unintended consequences of entering into a peace bond?
Before entering into a peace bond, the facts that form the basis of the peace bond are read into the record. In the future, a transcript of the proceedings can be requested, and the facts can be accessed. As long as you inform the court that the facts are not being admitted, but that you agree that there is a reasonable basis to enter into the peace bond, the facts cannot later be used against you as truths. You may also want to clearly state for the record the elements of the offence that are disputed.
If you hold a firearms license, be aware that one consequence of an s.810 peace bond is the likely loss of that license.
A peace bond may also limit your ability to successfully sue other parties (such as the complainant, crown attorney, or police officers) for malicious or negligent prosecution.
If you are considering entering into a peace bond of any kind, it is advisable to contact a legal professional so that you can be properly advised regarding the best decision given your circumstances.