Restraining Orders and Peace Bonds are both made by a judge in court (criminal court for peace bonds and civil court for restraining orders), for the purpose of protecting one person from another. Both list conditions that must be followed or there are significant consequences including fines and jail. Both can be enforced anywhere in British Columbia. Protection orders include:
Civil Restraining Orders
When issued by a judge under the Family Law Act, Restraining Orders can work to deter harassment and unwanted contact. They are not obtained through the criminal justice system, but instead are obtained through a civil court process you can ask questions at the Court Registry office. Details should be discussed with a lawyer, and there will be fees associated with having a lawyer (unless you qualify for Legal Aid). You may want to ensure that there is wording included about authority for the RCMP to respond and apprehend as restraining orders do not always direct the RCMP to act. Restraining orders must be served and this may be problematic if the offender’s whereabouts are not reliable. Restraining orders can be used only when there is a family connection you are (or were) married or living together or you have children together. A restraining order has no time limit and will be enforced only in British Columbia. If you move to another province, you will need to apply for another one.
Peace Bonds are voluntary undertakings and therefore not likely to be applicable in violent situations already involving police and/or criminal charges. However, if there is not enough evidence for the police to proceed with requesting charges, they may apply for a Peace Bond (or 810 recognizance). You can apply for a Peace Bond for protection from anyone, including someone you’ve had only a dating relationship with. You do not need a lawyer, the police can apply and a Crown counsel lawyer will handle the case in criminal court, where there will be a Peace Bond Hearing that you will have to testify at. A Peace Bond lasts up to one year, and there is no fee to obtain one. Further information should be obtained from police, Court Registry, Crown Counsel, or your local advocate.
Bail Conditions and No Contact Orders
When an accused person has been held in custody for a bail hearing, a victim may speak to the police or the Victim Assistance Worker about conditions of release they feel would be helpful to them. These conditions could include a no contact or communication order, a curfew, a geographical restriction, prohibition of alcohol and/or drugs, weapons prohibitions or other conditions. If the court agrees that the conditions are appropriate, they may be a part of the terms of release until the trial date. You should carry a copy of these conditions on your person at all times. If the accused breaks these conditions (called a breach), you should phone the RCMP immediately. If you have been in touch with the Probation Officer in charge of the case, you should also call them to report the breach.
If you fear for your safety, talk to the RCMP. They may meet with the accused and issue an informal no contact directive, and this will put your concerns on the record.
- Keep your restraining order or peace bond documents with you at all times. Leave copies at work, with a friend, in your car, etc.
- Call the police if your partner breaks the court order (breach of conditions).
- Think of alternative ways to keep safe if the police do not respond right away.
- Inform family, friends and neighbours that you have a restraining order or peace bond in effect.
This information is compliments of Northern Society for Domestic Peace