What is a no contact condition and what happens if I breach it?
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What is a no contact condition and what happens if I breach it?
A “no contact” condition is a legally binding requirement not to communicate with or contact a specific person: often the complainant or alleged victim; sometimes a co-accused. No contact conditions are common in sexual offence and inter-partner violence matters, and are often seen in the following:
- Release on bail or an undertaking.
- Peace bonds.
- Certain sentences, including probation and conditional sentence orders.
No contact conditions often go alongside “no-go” conditions, which are conditions not to go to a specified address or places a certain person regularly attends, like their home, workplace, or school.
Every no contact order is slightly different, but they often follow a similar format. Here is an example of what no contact and no-go conditions might look like (using fictional information):
- Do not communicate or have contact, direct or indirect, with Jane Doe.
- Do not attend at or within 500 meters of 123 Streetplace Blvd. NW in Calgary, AB.
- Do not attend at or within 500 meters of any known residence or place of work, education, or worship of Jane Doe.
No contact and no-go release order conditions can be challenging, especially in domestic violence cases where you are not allowed to contact your spouse or partner or go to your home. Sometimes, you can get these conditions removed or changed. I discuss this below.
What happens if you breach a no contact condition will depend on your situation, including why the no contact condition was ordered. Usually, breaching a no contact condition means being charged with a separate criminal offence. Often, it also means going to jail, at least until you have a bail hearing. Sometimes, it means reopening sentencing for a previous conviction and receiving a more serious sentence, including a prison sentence. I discuss these different situations below.
How can I remove or change a release order no contact condition?
In some cases, if your partner would like to have you home, you can get the judge replace or change the release order to remove its no contact and no-go conditions, but that usually requires first convincing the crown prosecutor to agree to do so, and it often takes time.
Sometimes, you cannot get the conditions removed but you can use the same process to have them “amended” (changed) to include certain exceptions. Here is an example (using fictional information) of what an amended no contact condition might look like:
Do not communicate or have contact, direct or indirect, with Jane Doe, EXCEPT:
- In court or through legal counsel.
- For the purposes of communicating about parenting.
- To facilitate pickup and drop-off of your shared children.
- As allowed by a subsequent order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
Every situation is different. Chances are, you will be unable to remove or amend a no contact condition unless the person you are not allowed to contact wants it removed or amended. And even if they do, the crown prosecutor or judge may not agree to remove or amend the condition.
What happens if I breach my no contact bail condition?
If you breach your bail release no contact condition, then you may be charged with an offence for failing to comply with a term of your release, and your bail may be revoked, meaning you will be held in jail until you can have another bail hearing. At that bail hearing, you may not be granted bail this time because the crown prosecutor and court will be less likely to trust you to follow your conditions moving forward. I have several FAQs about bail and bail hearings.
What happens if I breach my undertaking no contact order?
If you breach the no contact condition of your undertaking release, then you may be charged with an offence for doing so, and you may be held in custody until you can have a bail hearing, rather than being released on an undertaking again. At that bail hearing, you may not be granted bail because your history of not following release conditions will make the crown prosecutor and court less likely to trust you to follow bail conditions.
What happens if I breach my peace bond no contact condition?
If you breach your peace bond no contact condition, then you will likely be charged with a separate criminal offence, and the government will pursue forfeiture in the amount of money put up for the peace bond. For example, if you were granted a $3000.00 peace bond with no cash deposit, then you will have to pay the government $3000.00 for breaching the peace bond condition, in addition to any sentence for the breach offence.
What happens if I breach my probation sentence no contact condition?
If you are sentenced to a period of probation for committing an offence, then breaching the no contact condition of your probation is very serious. You will probably be charged with a separate offence for failing to comply with your probation condition. The other consequences will depend on the nature of your original sentence.
If you received a suspended sentence with probation, then you may have to serve the suspended sentence in jail.
If you received a conditional discharge and probation, the discharge may be revoked, leaving you with a criminal record for a conviction of the original offence, and you may be re-sentenced. Your new sentence will likely be harsher, and may include jail time. I have a separate FAQ about conditional discharges.
What happens if I breach my cso no contact condition?
If you received a conditional sentence order (CSO) and are even just charged with breaching its no contact condition (or any other condition), then you will be held in jail until you are released on bail or until you have a CSO breach allegation hearing.
To be released on bail while waiting for a CSO breach allegation hearing, you must prove to the court why you should be released. This is called a “reverse onus” bail hearing, and is different from most bail hearings, where the crown prosecutor must prove to the court why you should not be released.
At the CSO breach allegation hearing, the crown prosecutor must prove that you probably breached the no contact condition. This is much lower than the “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” standard that the crown must prove in order for you to be found guilty of a crime. If the crown prosecutor meets this standard, then you must prove that you had a legal excuse for the breach. If you cannot do so, then you may be re-sentenced for the original offence.
If you are re-sentenced to the original offence for breaching the no contact condition of your conditional sentence order, then the judge will do one of four things:
- Nothing (this is rare).
- Change the optional conditions of your conditional sentence order (usually making them stricter).
- Suspend the conditional sentence order and either order that you go to jail for the rest of the sentence or that you are released from custody with or without changes to the optional conditions.
- Terminate the conditional sentence order and send you to jail for the rest of your sentence (this is common).
For example, if you receive a 24-month conditional sentence and breach its no contact condition after 4 months, then you may have to spend the next 20 months in jail.
Conditional sentence orders are complicated, and I have a separate FAQ about them.