At Jaswal & Krueger, we have extensive experience in criminal defence and providing our clients with comprehensive legal support in various matters. One crucial aspect of our practice involves understanding the differences between peace bonds and restraining orders in British Columbia. These legal measures play significant roles in addressing domestic violence situations and ensuring the safety of individuals in vulnerable circumstances. 

In this blog, we aim to clarify the distinctions between peace bonds and restraining orders, empowering our you with valuable criminal law insights to make informed decisions in seeking legal protection.

Understanding Peace Bonds

A peace bond, legally known as a 810 recognizance, is a preventive measure within the criminal justice system that aims to protect potential victims from harm or violence. It requires the defendant to commit to “keeping the peace” and complying with certain conditions, typically for a specified period, usually up to 12 months. Some of these conditions may include:

  1. No-contact condition: The defendant may be required to have no contact, direct or indirect, with the protected person(s) named in the peace bond.
  2. Stay-away condition: The defendant may have to stay a certain distance away from specific locations, such as the protected person’s residence, workplace, or school.
  3. No alcohol or drug use: The court may impose a condition that the defendant abstains from alcohol or drugs during the peace bond duration.
  4. Attend counseling or treatment programs: The defendant may be required to attend counseling or treatment programs, such as anger management or substance abuse programs, to address underlying issues.
  5. Reporting obligations: The defendant may have to report to a probation officer during the peace bond period.

The Application Process

A peace bond application can be made by simply calling the police and requesting one. Legal representation is not necessary for this application. There are also no fees associated with this procedure. 

Should the application progress, the prosecutor, referred to as Crown counsel, becomes involved to assess the grounds on which the peace bond is requested. To secure a restraining order, an individual can apply for one under the Family Law Act in the Provincial and Supreme Courts.

Benefits and Limitations

Obtaining a peace bond can provide a measure of protection and reassurance for individuals who fear for their safety. It allows the applicant to take proactive legal action without resorting to criminal charges, providing a legal tool to address potential harm without charging the defendant with a criminal offence. However, it is essential to understand that peace bonds cannot guarantee absolute protection, as they rely on the defendant’s willingness to comply with the imposed conditions voluntarily.

Exploring Restraining Orders

Restraining orders are an important legal tool in family law protection, particularly in cases of domestic violence. This type of court order aims to prevent contact or communication between parties involved in contentious family situations, ensuring the safety and well-being of those seeking protection.

Types of Restraining Orders

Restraining orders can be obtained through both family court and criminal court, depending on the circumstances and the nature of the relationship between the parties involved. Family law protection orders are typically issued in family court proceedings, while restraining orders obtained through criminal court are related to specific criminal charges or investigations.

Criteria for Obtaining Family Law Protection Order

In family court, obtaining a protection order requires demonstrating that the applicant has reasonable grounds to fear for their safety or the safety of their children. The court considers various factors, such as past incidents of violence, threats, or controlling behaviour, before granting a protection order.

Scope and Enforceability

Restraining orders, once granted, have legal force and must be strictly adhered to by the individual against whom they are issued. The orders outline specific conditions, such as maintaining a certain distance from the protected person, refraining from contact or communication, and avoiding specific locations.

Differences and Overlaps

One of the primary differences between peace bonds and restraining orders lies in the nature of the proceedings. Peace bonds fall under the purview of the criminal court, while restraining orders are typically obtained through family court proceedings.

Both these orders restrict an individual’s actions and interactions with the victim, providing a protective barrier. While peace bonds are preventive measures against potential future harm, restraining orders are reactive, seeking to safeguard the victim from ongoing threats or abuse.

Concurrent Application

In some cases, individuals may seek both a peace bond and a restraining order simultaneously, especially when domestic violence situations involve both potential criminal conduct and family law protection concerns. The dual approach allows victims to address their safety comprehensively.

Breach of Peace Bonds and Restraining Orders

Although both a peace bond and a restraining order do not affect your criminal record, breaching either of them can lead to legal consequences. In the case of peace bonds, breach charges may result in criminal penalties. 

In a similar fashion, according to the Government of British Columbia, if a person breaches a restraining order, “the police may charge them with a criminal offence for breaching the conditions of the order and they may be arrested. If convicted, they could face serious consequences, including a fine, probation, or time in jail.”

Understanding the Protection Order Registry

Once a protection order is established, it is filed in the Protection Order Registry. The Protection Order Registry is a centralized database in British Columbia that records all active protection orders, including restraining orders and peace bonds. It allows law enforcement agencies to access real-time information on active orders, ensuring quick enforcement and providing enhanced protection for the individuals named in these orders.

Seeking Legal Assistance

lawyer talking with client on the phone

Dealing with matters involving peace bonds and restraining orders requires expert legal advice and representation. An experienced domestic violence lawyer in BC can guide individuals through the legal process, ensuring their rights and interests are protected at every stage.

Role of Criminal Defence Lawyers

Our criminal defence lawyers have significant expertise in handling peace bonds and restraining orders, providing our clients with comprehensive support and advocating for their rights. We understand the complexities of such cases and strive to achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients.

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