How to Resolve Domestic Violence and Similar Charges Without a Criminal Record
A peace bond is a criminal court order that sets out specific conditions to protect the safety of others or property. A judge can order that a peace bond be imposed if there is a reasonable fear that a person will cause personal injury to another person, their family, or their property. Section 810 of the Criminal Code allows a peace bond to be imposed, much like that of a restraining order. A peace bond is a more serious form of restraining order because breaching the conditions may result in criminal charges. Breaching a peace bond can also result in a financial penalty, where the accused ends up owing the government a substantial fee.
For accused persons charged with family/domestic violence offences where there has not been serious injury, a peace bond is very often the best possible outcome. If a Crown consents to doing a peace bond, the criminal charge will be withdrawn. Preventing a criminal record is the most beneficial result that we seek for our clients. While a peace bond may show up on certain kinds of “enhanced” police background checks (for example, a “vulnerable persons check”), it is not entered into the national criminal record database. This means that the client can honestly say they have never been found guilty, and have never been convicted and have not received a criminal record. Peace bonds do not require the accused to plead guilty. The only legally binding criteria is that there is a reasonable fear that an offence may be committed.
A peace bond will only be available where the Crown consents. It is important to have a criminal defence lawyer to convince the Crown that it is “not in the public interest” to proceed with the charges. When deciding whether to agree to a peace bond, the Crown will consider whether the offence involved a serious injury, whether there is a substantial history of abusive behaviour against the victim, the accused’s criminal record, whether the accused will admit what happened, and what conditions will be appropriate. Typically, only simple assaults will be eligible for a peace bond. Under the right circumstances, however, and with proper legal representation, even more serious offences can result in peace bonds. As criminal defence lawyers in Calgary, Edmonton, and surrounding areas we have had success securing peace bonds for the following offence types:
- Simple assault
- Domestic assault, including chocking and hair pulling
- Domestic assault causing bodily harm
- Domestic assault with a weapon
- Unlawful confinement
- Threats in a domestic context
- Criminal harassment
- Possession of child pornography
A peace bond generally lasts between 6 and 12 months. The main condition of a peace bond requires that a client “keep the peace and be of good behaviour.” The length and specific conditions of a peace bond are based on a case-by-case basis and it is important that you have a criminal defence lawyer to negotiate these with the Crown. Conditions may include the following:
- having no contact with the victim(s),
- not attending the victim’s home or workplace (also called a “no go” condition),
- a prohibition on carrying firearms or weapons,
- not to purchase or consume alcohol,
- not to attend establishments where the primary business is the sale of alcohol, and
- counselling requirements.
The conditions of a peace bond can be changed over time if you have a lawyer willing to make that application before a judge.
To find out whether your case is eligible for a peace bond resolution please contact our office for a free consultation. It is important to get legal advise regarding your case as soon as possible to receive advise not only on the merits of your case, but also on what you can do to maximize your chances of receiving a peace bond resolution.