What is a peace bond?
A peace bond is sometimes called an ‘810 recognizance’ or a ‘section 810 peace bond’. It essentially is a court order that is a signed promise to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, and can include conditions, including not having any weapons, no contact or staying away from a particular person or place, pledge an amount of money to the court ($500-1000) that is paid if any condition is breached, abstain from non-prescription drugs or alcohol.
It may be available if a person has been threatened, has a reasonable fear for personal or family safety, or has a reasonable fear of property damage. A peace bond is sometimes offered as an alternative to a trial/conviction/guilty plea, in order to avoid a criminal record. No criminal record is attached to a peace bond, but breaching conditions can lead to criminal charges. A peace bond is often sought when a person is not charged with an offence, but a complaint has been made and the court requires a response. The complainant must demonstrate on a ‘balance of probabilities’ that reasonable grounds exist to fear personal injury or property damage.
Anyone can apply for a peace bond by going to criminal court and explaining why one is needed. It does not have to involve police, and can be against anyone. It can take 2-3 months to obtain a peace bond. It must first be demonstrated that a peace bond is required. A summons is then issued to the defendant. If they do not agree to the peace bond, a hearing date will be set. Once issued, a peace bond lasts up to one year, and is non-renewable. If it is still required after the one year, an application for a new peace bond will have to be filed.
Sometimes the Justice of the Peace, judge, or other party might suggest a mutual peace bond, where conditions are placed on both sides. If this occurs, it is best to obtain legal advice before signing one, as the other party may attempt to intentionally cause violations in order to press criminal charges.
Once a peace bond is obtained, a certified copy needs to be available for police to be able to enforce it. While peace bonds may not deter threatening or violent behaviour, they do facilitate more effective police and court action for violation of terms.