A peace bond is an order by a criminal court judge saying someone must “keep the peace”.
Peace bonds (or recognizances) are used where a person seems likely to commit a criminal offence but there are no reasonable grounds to believe they already committed the offence. Peace bonds may also be issued to resolve criminal charges. For example, if the person causing harm is charged with assault, the Crown prosecutor may agree to withdraw the charges if the person enters into a peace bond.
How to Apply for a Peace Bond
You may apply for a peace bond against someone you fear may:
- injure you, your partner or child, or your property, or
- distribute, publish, transmit, sell, make available or advertise an intimate image of you without your consent.
You can apply at the criminal court division at any Provincial Court in Alberta. You can also talk to a police officer. You must tell the court or police officer why you are applying for a peace bond. If you speak to a police officer, they may start an investigation, which may lead to charges against the person causing harm. Read the Going to the Police page to learn more.
The court or police officer will decide if your application for a peace bond should go ahead. They will give you a date for the court hearing. Hearings often take place two to three months after you make your application.
At the court hearing, you must convince the judge you have reasonable grounds for the peace bond. You must share why you fear the person will harm you, your partner or your children, or will damage your property. Or why you think the person will share an intimate image of you without your consent. You should have evidence, such as medical records, police reports, affidavits from witnesses, etc.
The person causing harm (accused) must also attend the court hearing. They can share their story with the judge. Do not interrupt, make faces or roll your eyes. Try not to be confrontational or sarcastic. After the accused shares, the judge may let you respond to their claims and say what you disagree with. It is a good idea to bring a trusted family member or friend with you for support.
If the judge thinks there are reasonable grounds for your fears, they will order the accused to enter into a peace bond. The accused must agree to enter into the peace bond. If the accused refuses to enter into the peace bond, they can be sent to jail for up to one year.
Contents of a Peace Bond
A peace bond can list conditions the person causing harm must follow, such as requiring them to:
- stay away from your home, place of employment or other place you or your partner or children regularly go
- stop contacting you and your partner and children
- not use drugs or alcohol
- regularly report to police or a probation officer
- not possess any firearms or weapons, and give up any firearms or weapons they have
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does a peace bond last?
A peace bond can last for up to one year. It cannot be renewed but you can reapply for a new one. You will have to convince the judge that you still have reasonable grounds for your fears.
What happens if the person does not follow the peace bond?
Call the police. The police will then decide whether to arrest the person. If arrested, the person causing harm will be charged with breaching the peace bond. The accused can plead guilty or go to a trial. You may have to appear in court at the trial to give evidence of the breach. If the person causing harm is found guilty of breaching the peace bond, they will receive a criminal record and may go to jail.
Do not contact the person causing harm or allow them back into your home while the peace bond is in effect. The peace bond is hard to enforce if you initiate or allow contact from them. It may be more difficult to get a no contact order in the future.