Under the Canadian criminal law, when an accused agrees to adhere to a specific set of conditions for some definite time period, the agreement is known as a peace bond. The primary purpose of a peace bond is to ensure that the accused won’t commit a crime against a victim during a specified time. To be specific, a peace bond is a highly useful option that allows an accused to avoid a criminal record outside of a trial.
In Canada, there are two kinds of peace bonds; statutory peace bonds under section 810 of the Criminal Code, and Common law peace bonds. Now, let’s discuss both types of peace bonds in detail:
Statutory Peace Bonds
A statutory peace bond is a kind of peace bond that’s issued according to section 810 of the Criminal Code. As per section 810, a court can issue a statutory peace bond on request of a victim or any other individual who has a solid reason to believe that an accused person will harm them or harm someone else they know.
The fundamental difference between a statutory peace bond and a common law peace bond is that the complainant or victim must have an ongoing fear of the accused for a statutory peace bond to be sworn. The fundamental conditions of a statutory peace bond as stipulated in the criminal code section 810 include:
- The accused does not consume drugs or alcohol except what’s prescribed by a physician
- The accused must submit to drug testing whenever required
- The accused must stay away from or avoid communicating with the complainant
- The honourable judge hearing the application has the choice to impose any other conditions deemed necessary in order to ensure proper conduct of an accused
A statutory peace bond can last up to 1 year. In case someone breaches a statutory peace bond, that person can be charged with an offence as per section of the Criminal Code. Furthermore, the Crown has the option of prosecuting an offender either through indictment or by summary conviction.
In case of an indictment, a person found guilty of a breach can face imprisonment for up to 2 years. In case of a summary conviction, a person found guilty of a violation can face imprisonment of up to 6 months.
Common Law Peace Bond
To obtain a common law peace bond, a complainant does not need to have an ongoing fear of the accused. This peace bond has a broader scope as it can be applied when there’s a reasonable doubt that the accused may breach the peace bond generally, not just as a result of a violent action against one or two people. As fear isn’t a requirement for this type of peace bond, it can be utilized to resolve a criminal matter where both the accused and complainant would want to reconcile with each other.
Overall, the conditions accompanying a common law peace bond are similar to those of statutory peace bonds such as good behaviour of the accused, avoiding contact with a complainant, and weapons prohibitions. Nonetheless, common law peace bonds could last more than 1 year. In case of a breach of a common law peace bond, the accused is charged with a criminal offence according to section 127 of the Criminal Code. Overall, the punishment for a breach is the same for both types of peace bonds.