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Do you know a woman who is being abused? A legal rights handbook

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What is a peace bond?

A peace bond is a court order that is a signed promise, in writing, to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. It can include conditions. For example, your partner may promise not to contact you or your children.

Anyone can apply for a peace bond under section 810 of the Criminal Code. These peace bonds are sometimes called "section 810 peace bonds" or "810 recognizances".

To apply for a peace bond, you must go to criminal court and explain why you need a peace bond. For example, you should tell the court why you are afraid that your partner might hurt you, your children, your property, or your pets.

A section 810 peace bond can last for up to one year. If you need to be protected after your peace bond ends, you have to apply for another one.

Applying for a peace bond

To get a peace bond, you need to go to criminal court. Usually, you need to ask a justice of the peace (JP) for a peace bond. To find a JP, call your local courthouse or go to www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/how-do-i/find-a-justice-of-the-peace.

You need to tell the JP why you think you need a peace bond. If the JP thinks there is enough evidence for your application to go to court, they will issue a summons to your partner to appear in court on a specific date.

Summons: a document that orders your partner to go to court on a specific date.

If your partner does not agree to a peace bond, there might be many delays before the court decides whether to give you a peace bond at a hearing. You should make a safety plan for you and your children.

At a hearing, you have to tell the court why you think you need to be protected from your partner. Your partner also gets a chance to tell the court their side of the story. The court looks at the evidence and decides whether or not they should order a peace bond and what conditions it should include.

You can have a lawyer represent you in court. Usually, you have to come to court to tell your side of the story. But you do not have to come if your partner agrees before the court date to sign a peace bond.

Important: Sometimes a JP or criminal court judge will suggest that both partners sign a peace bond. This is called a "mutual" peace bond. Never agree to sign a mutual peace bond without getting legal advice first. It would mean that you must follow the same conditions as your partner. An abusive partner might try to get you to break a condition and then call the police to report you.

Conditions in a peace bond

Even though it is a court order, the peace bond will not give your partner a criminal record. But if your partner breaks any of the bond's conditions, call the police. Your partner might be charged with breaching a peace bond, which is a criminal offence. If he is found guilty, he can be sentenced to time in jail.

Peace bonds are entered on the police information computer system. The police can arrest anyone who breaks any of the conditions.

After you get a peace bond

Keep a certified copy of the peace bond with you at all times. The police need to see it before they can do anything if your partner does not follow the peace bond.

You might also want to give a copy to others. For example, if there is a condition that your partner cannot contact your child, you should give a copy of the peace bond to your child's school so that they can show it to the police if your partner tries to pick up your child from school.