In Canadian law, a peace bond
is an order from a criminal court
that requires a person to keep the peace and be on good behaviour for a period of time. This essentially means that the person who signs a peace bond must not be charged with any additional criminal offences during its duration. Peace bonds often have other conditions as well, such as not having any weapons or staying away from a particular person or place. Peace bonds are similar to a civil court restraining order
, and are also based on the lesser burden of proof
of civil law.
A peace bond can be made by a criminal court judge or a Justice of the Peace
. A peace bond is usually issued when the Crown Prosecutor is convinced that a strong case does not exist against the accused. A person does not plead guilty when they enter into
a peace bond. Thus, there is no finding of guilt made or conviction registered if a person agrees to sign a peace bond. One of the reasons why a person may agree to enter into a peace bond is to avoid a criminal trial, and ultimately the possibility
of being convicted in a court of law
of the offence for which they were charged; which would entail
getting a criminal record.
The peace bond itself is usually set for twelve months. If a peace bond is signed, then the charges are withdrawn, and the prosecution of those charges is considered to be complete, and those same charges can never be re-instated. However, if one or more of the conditions of a peace bond are broken, either by not obeying one of the conditions, or by getting charged with a subsequent criminal offence
within the 12-month period of time in which it was signed, there could be very serious repercussions, as this may result in the person being charged with a separate criminal offence of "breach of recognizance" or "disobeying a court order
". The defendant may also be required to forfeit the entire cash surety that they pledged to pay to the court (usually $500 or $1000) when they entered into the peace bond. Breaching any condition of a peace bond is considered a criminal offence. Moreover, as of July 19, 2015, a conviction for breaching a condition of a peace bond carries a maximum sentence of up to four years imprisonment.
The use of peace bonds is rather uncommon in the U.S. justice system, but a deferred prosecution has a similar effect. Since there is no conviction or admission of any guilt, signing a peace bond in Canada does not usually result in U.S. inadmissibility under INA § 212 (a) (2).
Upon expiry of the peace bond, the person who was subject to the bond should write to the arresting police agency and request that the bond be purged, along with their fingerprints
and photographs (if applicable). Otherwise, details of the bond will remain in the investigative section of the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) indefinitely, which may affect future travel and employment.Applications to request a file destruction of fingerprints, photographs, and record of disposition
are available on all Canadian police websites.
While in effect
, the peace bond used to appear on a basic criminal record check, but since the year 2011 it is no longer the case. Since a peace bond is a public record
, it may also be visible in provincial online court records, but is clearly identified as a court order and not a finding of guilt or criminal conviction. An expired peace bond that has been purged should not affect future employment or travel.
In exceptional cases, an expired peace bond may still be disclosed by Police if the person once subject to the bond is seeking a very detailed criminal history check (vulnerable sector search) in order to work or volunteer
directly without supervision with children, seniors, or disabled individuals. Although there are no uniform standards across the country, after a five-year period has elapsed from the date that the peace bond was issued, and if the person subject to the peace bond has not since transgressed the law, it should no longer appear even in the most detailed type of criminal record check.