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Someone has asked me to sign a peace bond. Should I sign it?
A peace bond is an order made in a criminal law court by a judge or justice of the peace to protect someone who has a reasonable fear that you will:
- hurt them, their spouse, their common-law partner, or their child
- damage their property
- distribute or share an intimate image or video of them without their permission
A peace bond requires you to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. This means you must not do anything to break the law. You may also have to follow other conditions the court thinks are necessary to prevent further harm. For example, you may not be allowed to contact the person or visit certain places.
A peace bond can be enforced anywhere in Canada. Most peace bonds last for up to 1 year.
Peace bonds in criminal cases
The Crown may offer you a peace bond to deal with your criminal charges.
If you are not facing criminal charges
You may be asked to sign a peace bond even if there are no criminal charges against you. If someone is afraid you will hurt them, damage their property, or share an intimate image or video of them without consent, they can ask for a peace bond.
If someone has applied to have you sign a peace bond, you may get a summons. A summons is a document that tells you when you have to go to court.
You do not have to agree to sign the peace bond. If you don’t agree to sign it, you may have a hearing. You will likely have to go to court a few times before you get a hearing date.
Or, if the Crown decides there is not enough evidence to have to a hearing, they can withdraw the complaint against you.
If mediation is not successful and the Crown thinks there is enough evidence against you, you will get a hearing date. At the hearing the person who asked for the peace bond has to show the court that they have a reasonable fear of you.
If the person convinces the court that their fear of you is reasonable, the court orders a peace bond. When this happens, you do not have a choice. You must agree to the peace bond. If you refuse to sign the peace bond, you can be sent to jail for up to 1 year.
A peace bond can be enforced anywhere in Canada. Most peace bonds last for up to 1 year. If the person still has a reasonable fear of you at the end of the year, they can apply to have the peace bond renewed.
Peace bonds are not the same as restraining orders.
Restraining orders are made by a family law court. Unlike peace bonds, they can only be made against former spouses, common-law partners, or people you previously lived with.
Restraining orders can be temporary or permanent. They can last longer than a peace bond.