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Do you have legitimate reasons to fear for your safety, safety of your child or your partner? Are you scared that someone break your goods or publish online an intimate image without your consent? Ask for a Section 810 Peace Bond (also called a Recognizance order): this measure can protect your safety.
What Is a Recognizance Order?
The Recognizance order of the Criminal code is a preventive justice tool. It can be ordered even if no crime has been committed.
A Recognizance order is signed before a judge by a partner or an ex-intimate partner if someone is afraid, for reasonable grounds, that another person:
- will cause personal injury to him or her or his or her spouse or common-law partner or child;
- will damage his or her property;
- will publish an intimate image without his or her consent.
Who can ask for a Recognizance Order?
You, or a person acting on your behalf, can ask for a Recognizance order.
A criminal or penal prosecuting attorney (also called a prosecuting attorney) can also ask the judge a Recognizance order.
The prosecuting attorney is the lawyer that prosecute on behalf of the State. He or she acts to ensure public interest. He or she is not your lawyer, but he or she acts to ensure your interest, your rights and your safety.
After examining the evidence of your case submitted by the police, the prosecuting attorney can ask for a Recognizance order if the case meets these 2 conditions:
- No criminal charges can be laid on the suspect;
- In the context of your case, the Criminal code allows a Recognizance order.
How to ask for a Recognizance Order?
You must go to the nearest police station to get assistance from police officers.
Police officers will investigate to determine if criminal offences have been committed toward you, or if a Recognizance order meets the conditions of the Criminal Code.
Police officers could need your statement or the statement of another witnesses to gather evidence and then ask for a Recognizance order.
At the end of the investigation, if the facts reveal an offence or allow to ask for a Recognizance order, police officers submit the case to the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales (DPCP). A prosecuting attorney will then analyze the case.
Once the person you fear have appeared before a judge, you can meet the prosecuting attorney. If a Recognizance order is issued or not, you can ask all the questions you have, exchange about your concerns, and get fair and reliable information about:
- many aspects of the judicial process;
- measures to facilitate the Testimony;
- your rights as a victim.
You can also go to the office of the courthouse and ask for a Recognizance order. However, it is possible that the office of court asks you to fill a statement under oath at the police station to include with your application.
However, the investigation of a police officer and assistance of a prosecuting attorney could let you know the potential risks of this situation for your safety. Also, the police officer and the prosecuting attorney can guide you to find help resources.
Steps after asking for a Recognizance Order
After the Recognizance order is filed, 2 events can happen.
Your intimate partner or ex intimate partner:
- accepts to sign the Recognizance order and to respect the conditions: he or she has to admit before a judge that you have reasons to fear him or her;
- denies your fears and refuses to sign the Recognizance order.
If the last situation occurs, an hearing will be held before a judge. The judge will determine if you have reasonable grounds to fear your actual partner or ex-partner.
Functioning of an hearing before the judge
Before the hearing, the prosecuting attorney will explain the functioning and answer your questions or concerns on the judicial process. Generally, the hearing is held promptly after.
During the hearing, the prosecuting attorney presents the evidence that support reasonable grounds to fear the offences stated above: injuries, damage to his or her property, publishing intimate image of you, etc. These reasonable grounds need to be in effect at the hearing.
Have you given a statement to the police? Your testimony in court and other witnesses, when necessary, constitute the evidence. It is also possible to present other evidence like emails or texts messages.
Different rules of evidence
The rules of evidence are not the same as a criminal trial. The burden of proof has a lower standard than a criminal trial: the evidence must show it is more likely than not to fear your aggressor. In a criminal trial, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
During your testimony for a Recognizance order, you can report an event, words or actions that you did not witness, but that you heard someone telling. This evidence is usually not accepted by a court in a criminal trial.
Conditions of a Recognizance Order
The partner or ex-partner is committed to enter into a Sureties to keep peace and be of good behavior. Upon the reported facts during the hearing, the judge can impose further conditions to ensure his or her good conduct and your safety, like he or she could be prohibited:
- to communicate, directly or indirectly, with you or members of your family (new partner, children, brother or sister, etc.);
- to refer to you, directly or indirectly, in any medias, including social medias;
- to be in a specified area, or a certain distance of this area, that you or your family attend on a regular basis: home, place of study, workplace;
- from possessing any firearms
- to use drugs or alcohol.
The judge orders this agreement for a maximum of 12 months.
You can make another request after this period of time if you still have fears. You’ll have to follow the same steps as your first request.
What happens in case of non-compliance of a Recognizance Order?
Violating your order is a crime, it’s a breach of conditions.
If your intimate partner or ex-partner does not respect one or many conditions of his or her order, he or she could face criminal charges. If the person is found guilty, he could be sentenced to imprisonment of 2 years less a day to 4 years, or a fine up to $5,000.
Are you aware that a person under a Recognizance order does not respect his or her conditions? Inform promptly police officers to make sure they investigate and ensure your safety.
Substituting Criminal Charge by a Recognizance Order
If the evidence gathered by the police conclude that a criminal offence have been committed, he or she will be accused for this offence. This charge cannot be substituted by a Recognizance order, except if these 4 conditions are satisfied:
- The Criminal code allows a Recognizance Order in the context of your case.
- The evidence held by the prosecuting attorney is not sufficient to support the criminal charge against him or her, or it is not appropriate anymore to press charge because of a change of circumstances (for example: some evidence not available, new evidence available, new facts given to the defense).
- You had all necessary information about the judicial process, your participation to the process, help resources and assistance available, etc., and you decided to not go further within the judicial process.
- Substitution by a Recognizance order complies with public interest and a proper administration of the justice.
In any other situations, the prosecuting attorney will not consider the substitution.
The prosecuting attorney is committed to your concerns regarding your safety and the safety of your relatives.
Tell your doubts or questions to the prosecuting attorney about the judicial process. He or she will consider all these concerns when will be the time to take decisions throughout the case.
The prosecuting attorney will:
- give you information about the judicial process to enlighten you about all possible options.
- take into consideration your concerns for every decision he or she takes throughout the case.
What you have to say is very important and has to be heard and considered by the prosecuting attorney.
The Limits of a Recognizance Order
A Recognizance order is a preventive justice tool. To benefit from it, you must have ongoing fears based on facts. The judge will be able to impose conditions described as reasonable and essentials, on the basis of your fears.
A Recognizance order is not a conviction to a criminal offence. The person who signs the agreement has no criminal record.
When a Recognizance order is signed, your intimate partner or ex-partner is bound by the conditions. If he or she does not respect one or many conditions imposed by the judge, you must inform the authorities by calling the police, for example. If you don’t inform the authorities, the breach of conditions won’t be reported.
If your situation has changed after your intimate partner or ex-partner have signed a Recognizance order, you must ask for amendments by communicating with the police.
The conditions of a Recognizance order signed by your intimate partner or ex-partner are in effect for 12 months. After this time period, you can make another request if you still have fears. You’ll have to follow the same steps as your first request. To redo the process, go to the nearest police station to get assistance from police officers.
Maybe a Recognizance order is not the most appropriate means to your need for safety. The need for safety may differ from one person to another.
Many elements must be taken into account, as the severity of the violence, criminal history and the presence of children, to choose the best means of ensuring protection in regard of your situation.
Assistance and support resources
If you need assistance to assess if the Recognizance order is the best protection means for your situation or to know other available protection tools, you can communicate with assistance services or safe houses of your area.
Throughout the process, resources are there to support and assist you:
- Telephone line from DPCP to inform victims of domestic violence and sexual assault: call 1 877 547-3727, Monday to Friday, between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm.
- Crime victims assistance centre offer, among other things, assistance services and judicial information, preparation for a testimony, information on your rights and appeals, and technical assistance (compensation for victims of criminal acts [IVAC], Victim impact statement, etc.).
- Shelters for abused women have confidential safe homes for you and your children, but also other services as external consultation, phone support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and assistance in your different processes.
- SOS violence conjugale gives information, support and references for victims of domestic violence and their relatives, by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and via text messages.
- L’IVAC is a compensation plan that provides adults and children victims and rescuers with benefits to help them recuperate from injuries. A number of services are offered, depending on the assessment of your situation and your needs.
- Police services are available for any emergency, but they can also inform and assist you if you want to make a complaint. You just have to communicate with the police station of your neighborhood.
Amendments to Conditions of a Recognizance Order
Your intimate partner or ex-partner is bounded by the conditions listed in the Recognizance order. If he or she does not respect one or many conditions, he or she could face criminal charges.
To amend the conditions, notably the ban to communicate with you, your intimate partner or ex-partner must make a formal request to the judge. Your only consent is not enough.
If you want to communicate again with your intimate partner or ex-partner who has signed a Recognizance order that stipulate he can’t contact you, a prosecuting attorney will meet you one more time. He or she will make sure that it is your will, and that your safety is not jeopardized.
The prosecuting attorney’s actions are aimed to assist, help and protect you, respecting your pace.
If you are harassed, intimidated, threatened, physically or sexually abused, emotionally blackmailed, or any other way that might end up under undue pressure to amend the conditions of the Recognizance order, inform the prosecuting attorney of your case. The prosecuting attorney will guide you to appropriate resources and the steps to be taken.
For more information
Consult this Directive ENG-1 Engagement de ne pas troubler l’ordre public en vertu de l’article 810 du Code criminel (PDF 184 Kb) (in French only). This standard guide prosecuting attorneys of the DPCP to examine the appropriateness of asking or not a Recognizance order.
Last update: December 7, 2023