WHAT IS A PEACE BOND AND CAN I GET ONE?
In some circumstances where you are charged with assault under the criminal code, the prosecution may offer a peace bond or your lawyer may be able to resolve the matter with the Crown Attorney by way of a peace bond through negotiations.
A crown is more inclined to offer a Section 810 or common law peace bond if the assault was relatively minor in nature and if you have no criminal record or a small criminal record with unrelated offences and you have had good behaviour since the date of your criminal charges. The crown will also consider the feedback from the complainant as well as whether or not the complainant suffered any personal injury.
It is important that you do not breach any conditions of your promise to appear or bail recognizance. If you are charged with a breach of recognizance, your chances of getting a peace bond are significantly lower. A breach of bail can be anything from reoffending in some serious way or something more minor such as sending text messages to the complainant.
Additionally, the Crown Attorney will likely seek a victim impact statement from the complainant or have a conversation with them to see if they feel as though a peace bond is fair and will properly address the principles of sentencing. The complainant will also be able to provide a written victim impact statement. A peace bond can be entered into before a Justice of the Peace or a Judge in criminal court.
WHAT IS A PEACE BOND IN CANADA?
A peace bond often makes a good resolution option with the Crown if it becomes available to you. A peace bond is a court order requiring the accused to keep the peace and be of good behavior for a certain period of time. To be of good behavior may encompass a number of responsibilities, but namely, a person cannot be charged with a criminal offence while subject to a peace bond. If you are a person entering the peace bond than the court will provide you with a copy. A peace bond can be made for a period of twelve months or more, and once the period ends, the peace bond comes to an end automatically. Once it is over, you are no longer required to abide by the conditions attached to the peace bond.
Peace bonds can be between family members, spouses, or any two people. When they are in the domestic context, often times family law court is involved in if there are children. Unfortunately, family violence is common in Ontario. With that said, often times the complaints made to the police are unfounded and the Crown does not have enough evidence to prove the case. The crown prosecutor has a duty to withdraw the charges if there is no reasonable prospect of conviction or if prosecuting the charges is not in the public interest.
ENTERING A PEACE BOND IS NOT AN ADMISSION OF GUILT
Entering into a peace bond is not admitting that you are guilty and it will not result in a criminal record. With that said, there will be a record of the peace bond during the material term. Peace bonds are typically done in provincial court. When you enter into a peace bond what you are acknowledging is that the complainant has reasonable grounds to fear for his or her safety, the safety of his or her spouse or child, or the safety of his or her property.
At the peace bond hearing, the allegations that lead to the reasonable fear are read into the record by the Crown. At the end of the reading of the information and the allegations, the Justice of the Peace will ask if the accused would like to “show cause”. If the accused wants to enter into the peace bond so that the charges are withdrawn, the accused or their counsel will indicate that they do not wish to show cause.
Once you enter into the peace bond it is important that you do not breach any conditions of the peace bond. The conditions of a peace bond can vary depending on the facts of the case. If your peace bond is with a common-law partner, and both parties would like to resume contact, then it will likely not have the no-contact as you could see in a typical peace bond, similar to a restraining order or a protection order. Restraining orders however, are made by a family law court and unlike peace bonds, can only be made against a former spouse or common law partner. Restraining orders can also be permanent and last longer than peace bonds. The goal of a peace bond is to set an appropriate safety plan and provide the complainant with some peace of mind. Every peace bond will include the term “keep the peace and be of good behaviour”.
Generally, a person entering into a peace bond does not have to deposit money with the court but will be required to pledge an amount of money such as $500. By pledging money, a person is agreeing that if they break one of the conditions of the peace bond, they may have to pay that money into court.
The decision to enter into a peace bond depends on a number of different things and should be done in consultation with your lawyers. Factors will include the strength of the Crown’s case, circumstances of the accused and the complainant, as well as the risks of losing at trial. The decision is up to the accused, but should never be done without legal advice.
WHAT IS THE PENALTY FOR ASSAULT?
For Assault level 1 or simple assault the maximum penalty is six months in jail and/or up to a $5000.00 fine for summary conviction, and five years if the Crown elects to proceed by indictment. Assault with a Weapon or assault causing bodily harm charges, the maximum penalty is eighteen months in jail for a summary conviction and ten years if the Crown elects to proceed by indictment. Lastly, for aggravated assault, the maximum penalty is fourteen years. With that said, often times we are able to secure no jail at all to our clients depending on the allegations and the criminal record, if any, of the client.
If the crown accepts your peace bond application, you will be required to attend court. After you enter into a peace bond at the peace bond hearing, you will have to sign the copy of the peace bond. Peace bonds can be in effect for 12 months, two years, and sometimes more. When the peace bond ends, you are no longer bound by the terms of the peace bond.
CONTACT A LAWYER IMMEDIATELY
A conviction for assault can be very serious and impact your life in various ways such as travel and employment. Our advice is to contact a lawyer immediately to avoid any adverse influences to your case and begin working towards a good result.
Our law firm is happy to offer free initial consultations. It is critical that you receive sound legal advice by a reputable law firm in Ontario. We also accept Legal Aid as a way of ensuring those that are most vulnerable receive proper legal representation. At the initial meeting, we will give you the legal information necessary to make sure you are fully informed. We treat every case with meticulous detail and do whatever we can to achieve the best result possible.
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