What is a peace bond?

Susan Karpa Criminal Lawyer in CalgaryIf you have been charged or are being investigated, hiring a Calgary bail lawyer is important. I can explain the strategy for fighting these charges, the repercussions of a guilty plea, the nature of a peace bond if applicable, and other related aspects of your charges. Contact us now at 587-888-7149 for a free consultation.

What is a peace bond?

A peace bond is when an accused person agrees to put up some amount of money (usually $1000 to $3000) and follow certain court-ordered conditions (usually for 12 months) in exchange for the crown prosecutor dropping the original criminal charge(s). 

Peace bonds are often an excellent option for accused persons who do not wish to go to trial or plead guilty for the offence they are charged with. Getting to trial can take years, and there are many reasons to avoid having a criminal record for a conviction of a crime. Peace bonds may be an option in many cases, and are commonly used in inter-partner violence (domestic) matters.

The two most common types of peace bond are:

  1. Section 810 peace bond (governed by section 810 of the Criminal Code and commonly called a “statutory peace bond”). 
  2. Common law peace bond. 

Section 810 and common law peace bonds are very similar. They are both regularly used in inter-partner violence cases, and tend to have similar conditions and breach consequences. The main difference is that section 810 peace bonds, unlike common law peace bonds, can only be ordered when the court has evidence that someone reasonably fears that someone will hurt them, their intimate partner, or their child (or will damage their property, or will commit the crime of publishing an intimate image without consent).

In my experience, common law peace bonds are seen more often in the regions surrounding Calgary – Cochrane, Airdrie, Didsbury, Okotoks, Tsuu T'ina, and Diamond Valley. This may be because it is easier to get Calgary Police Officers to provide evidence of fear in Calgary than to get RCMP officers to do so in these regional courts, which deal with matters spread out across larger areas.

There are other types of peace bonds which are less common and may be used in some cases when there is a reasonable fear that certain types of offences will be committed, including the following:

  • Criminal organization or justice system participant fear offences (section 810.01).
  • Terrorism offences (810.011).
  • Forced marriage or marriage of someone under 16 years of age (810.02).
  • Sexual offences (810.1).
  • Fear of a serious personal injury offence (810.2).

These more specific and less common peace bonds have different conditions and consequences, and are not the focus of this FAQ.

Is a peace bond a guilty plea?

A peace bond is not a guilty plea or admission of criminal guilt, and it does not result in a formal criminal record. However, it does require the accused person to acknowledge that there is a factual basis for the peace bond. 

To enter into a peace bond, the judge must accept that there has been a “breach of the peace,” and that a peace bond will avoid future crime or violence. By entering into the peace bond, you are acknowledging that something happened that gives the judge reason to accept the peace bond. Crown prosecutors and judges will often want the accused to acknowledge certain facts for the purpose of the peace bond. This can often be negotiated with the help of a criminal defence lawyer.

Do I have to pay cash up front for a peace bond?

It is highly unlikely that you will have to pay cash up front for a peace bond.

In all my experience as a criminal lawyer in Alberta, I have only seen “no cash deposit” peace bonds, meaning that you do not need to produce the cash upfront – you just have to pay it if you breach a condition of the peace bond.

For example, if you enter into a 12-month $1500 peace bond with no cash deposit for a domestic assault charge, and three months in, you breach your “no contact” condition by calling your ex-wife, then the government will try to recover the $1500 from you. I have a separate FAQ on “no contact” conditions.