Not all disturbances, threats, and criminal activity result in criminal charges; in some cases, a court may be able to stop harmful or threatening behavior through means other than the filing and prosecution of criminal charges. By issuing a peace bond, a court can allow the individual causing harm to another (the “defendant”) the opportunity to avoid a criminal conviction and criminal sanctions. A peace bond may not be an appropriate resolution to all cases; not only this, a defendant may not wish to resolve a particular incident through a peace bond. Counsel from an experienced Vancouver criminal defence lawyer can advise defendants as to their rights and obligations under a peace bond as well as whether a peace bond is the best resolution to his or her incident.
What is a Peace Bond?
A peace bond is a court order directing the defendant – that is, the one who has threatened, harassed, or otherwise caused harm to another – to “keep the peace” and cause no further harm to the victim. In addition, the defendant must not break the law for a period of time. A judge can add any additional conditions to the peace bond that the judge feels are necessary to protect the victim from the actions of the defendant. The defendant is bound to the terms of the peace bond once he or she signs the peace bond.
What Consequences do Peace Bonds Carry?
A defendant who is placed on a peace bond is not convicted of a criminal offense, at least initially. So long as the defendant obeys the terms and conditions of the peace bond, the defendant is not convicted of a criminal offense. If the defendant does break the terms of the peace bond (for instance, by contacting the victim despite orders not to do so, or by stalking the victim), the defendant can face serious penalties. Not only can the defendant be convicted of a criminal offense that would then appear on his criminal record, the defendant can be sentenced up to two years of imprisonment in addition to substantial fines.
I am Being Asked to Sign a Peace Bond – What Do I Do?
Although a victim applies for a peace bond by submitting an application to the court (usually where there are no criminal charges filed), a judge ultimately decides whether a peace bond is necessary. In making such a decision, the court will hear evidence from the victim as to why he or she feels the peace bond is necessary. If the judge believes there is reason for the victim to fear the defendant’s actions, the judge can ask the defendant to sign a peace bond. If the defendant refuses, a full hearing will be held in which the defendant can present his or her own evidence. If the court then asks the defendant to sign a peace bond and the defendant refuses, he or she can be punished with a term of imprisonment.
Whether a defendant should or should not sign a peace bond is not a decision to be made lightly. By signing a peace bond, the defendant is agreeing to conduct him- or herself in a certain manner and acknowledging that certain consequences will follow if he or she fails to do this. Refusing to sign a peace bond can mean that police continue with an investigation into criminal activity.
Contact our Vancouver Peace Bond Lawyers
Because there is so much is at stake, contact N.J. Preovolos Law Corporation to discuss your situation before making any decision regarding a peace bond. We will advise you and help choose the best course of action for your situation.