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The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide general information on a wide variety of legal issues in the Province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.
This topic will discuss Peace Bonds issued under the Criminal Code of Canada.
A Peace Bond or recognizance is a criminal Court Order that lays out certain conditions that must be adhered to by a person who is reasonably believed to jeopardize the safety of another. A Peace Bond will be ordered by the Court if the complainant has sufficiently demonstrated that the accused has caused them to fear for the continued well-being of themselves, their children, spouse or property. While Peace Bonds are often taken out against (ex) husbands, common law partners and other relatives you may obtain a bond against anyone you feel presents a danger to you or your family’s safety.
In order to obtain a Peace Bond you may apply directly to the Criminal Division of your Provincial Court. You may also choose to approach your local police station with your request. You must receive a file number from the police. Upon informing the police or Court, they will write everything down. If they feel that the situation requires further inspection they will provide you with a Court date where you must reasonably convince a Judge/ Justice of the Peace or Magistrate that you fear the accused will harm you, your family or your property. The accused will also be required to attend. It is recommended that you take immediate action as Peace Bond hearings often occur 2 to 3 months after the requested date. A Temporary term may be made in some circumstances until the Peace Bond process has gone underway.
Once in Court, you must tell the Judge why you fear the person against whom you are seeking the Peace Bond. You may represent yourself or have a lawyer to represent you at the hearing. Unlike a Restraining Order, obtaining a Peace Bond does not require that you obtain a lawyer. In order to successfully argue your case it is essential that you present evidence supporting your fears; pleas unsupported by provable facts or incidents (e.g. hospital records detailing an abuse etc.) will be rejected by the Court. The accused will also have a chance to explain their side of the story to the Judge. If the Judge is satisfied there are reasonable grounds for the applicant’s fear, the Court will order the defendant enter a recognizance to keep the peace. The defendant must agree to enter into the Bond. You will not obtain a criminal record by consenting to enter into a Peace Bond. If you refuse however, you may be given an imprisonment sentence not exceeding 1 year in length. In the Order, the Judge will prescribe a series of conditions or restrictions that the accused must uphold. These may include but are not limited to, periodically reporting to police, curfew restrictions, and requirements to remain a certain distance away from the victim or weapons prohibitions. If you fail to uphold the conditions outlined in the Bond then you will receive a criminal record for the breach.
The Bond may be issued for up to 1 year. The Peace Bond cannot be renewed, but a new one can be obtained from the Court. You may also consider obtaining a Restraining Order from the Court. A Restraining Order is a Court Order telling someone to stay away from you and not to communicate with you in any way. You should consult a lawyer if you want a Restraining Order as you must attend at the Court of Queen’s Bench. You may wish to contact Calgary Legal Guidance at 403-234-9266 for further assistance. Also, contact your local police, RCMP detachment, shelter or victims’ assistance unit. They can assist in getting information about other services in your community.