What Is a Peace Bond?

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The criminal justice system can be complex and stressful to deal with. There are times when evidence is clear, and convictions are simple. However, there are also instances where the Crown feels the threat of crime may exist or that they cannot prove that someone committed a crime. In such cases, a peace bond might be issued. What is a peace bond? It’s an intricate area of the law.

If you’re facing such a bond or wondering how it works, the wealth of information online may seem overwhelming. The following guide will provide the essential knowledge you need along with how it may affect your situation.

What Is a Peace Bond Under the Law?

A peace bond is a legal order issued by criminal courts that requires a targeted individual to “keep the peace” during a period of time. There are underlying reasons that such a bond may be issued, but in most cases, the primary rationale is that the Crown Attorney isn’t sure they can secure a conviction at trial. These bonds last for a maximum of 12 months.

An individual under a Peace Bond must not commit any criminal offence during this time. However, there can be a variety of other conditions attached as well:

  • No possession of weapons
  • No alcohol or drug use
  • Staying away from certain places or people
  • Abiding by a curfew
  • Reporting to probation officers or police

Either a Justice of the Peace or a judge from a criminal court can issue these orders. They effectively act as a combination of probation conditions and restraining orders — even though a criminal charge or conviction may not occur. A peace bond can prove beneficial to those it targets since it can help them avoid a potential trial.

When Is a Peace Bond Issued?

In many instances, a peace bond is issued when criminal charges have been brought against someone. The Crown Attorney may feel that a conviction is unlikely, so rather than prosecution, they can ask the defendant to sign a peace bond to avoid trial and have charges withdrawn. If they breach this bond, though, they can be charged with a separate criminal offence.

A peace bond can also be issued if no arrest or criminal charges are levied at all. Someone can request that a bond be issued if they feel that they, their spouse, their children, or their property are in danger. A peace bond can be issued when the courts believe that a crime is likely to be committed. As such, these bonds require a lower standard of proof than criminal charges.

What Happens If a Peace Bond Is Violated?

If a person is charged with a new crime or fails to follow the conditions of their peace bond, they can face criminal charges. This is disheartening when it occurs — because the peace bond itself would not show up on most criminal record background checks. A conviction for violating the court order, however, will come up in most cases.

Anyone convicted of a breach of peace bond can be fined up to $5,000, face three years of probation, and even be incarcerated for two years. These punitive measures are in addition to any other penalties related to new crimes and charges. This is why anyone facing a peace bond or charged with violating one should seek immediate legal counsel.

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