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Protection Orders

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If you or you or your children are feeling threatened and you believe you are in immediate danger, contact the police at 911. If you don’t feel safe in your home, ask the police to take you to a transition house, a safe house or to another safe place such as a friend or relative’s house.

If you fear for your safety or the safety of your children, but are not in immediate danger, you may want to:

  • Go to the police to ask for a peace bond
  • Go to court to apply for a restraining order

Peace Bonds
Typically, a peace bond is used where there is a serious risk to the safety of you and your family. You report your fears about someone to the police, the police conduct an investigation and, following that, may forward a report to Crown Counsel. There is no cost to you and there is no criminal charge involved. The person you have reported you are afraid of may agree to sign a peace bond to stay away from you and the matter is closed. On the other hand, if the person chooses not to cooperate they will be required to attend a hearing, and could be ordered to stay away from you. If that person breaks the agreement to stay away from you, he or she may be charged with a criminal offence.

Restraining Orders
A restraining order also results in a requirement that someone stay away from you. It is most commonly used for less serious safety concerns. Restraining orders are handled in civil court and the services of a private lawyer are usually needed. In some cases Legal Aid may be available to pay your expenses.

Peace Bond or Restraining Order?

Peace Bonds

Restraining Orders

You can apply for a peace bond for protection from anyone, including someone you’ve had only a dating relationship with, such as a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend.

To apply for a restraining order, you must have a family connection with the person, either you are or were married or living together, or you have children together.

You should go to the police and apply if you fear for your safety or the safety of your children.

You should apply if you are afraid for your safety or for less serious problems, for example, to get your partner or ex-partner to stop calling you every day, or to stop him or her from showing up uninvited at your home or your child’s school.

You do not need a lawyer to apply. The police will apply for you and a Crown lawyer (government lawyer) will handle your case in court. The hearing will be in criminal court.

You may apply with or without a lawyer, but a lawyer is recommended. You will be responsible for paying the lawyer unless you qualify for legal aid. The hearing will be in civil court.

There is no fee to apply.

There is not fee to apply in Provincial Court. In Supreme Court you will be required to pay a filing fee of approximately $200, unless you qualify for legal aid.

Lasts up to one year.

Has no time limit, unless the judge in your case includes a specific expiry date.

Can be enforced anywhere in BC and anywhere in Canada.

Usually only enforceable in BC. If you move out of province you may have to apply again in your new location.

How to Get a Peace Bond

Call your local police and tell them that you need a peace bond. You will be asked to describe what has happened to make you feel afraid for your safety. If you have kept any notes about past incidents or there is anyone who saw the person in question threaten you, tell the police officer at this time.

Ensure the officer has your current contact information for future communications, and be sure to write down the police case number or file number and the officer’s name. That way you can speak to the same officer if you have questions or concerns in the future.

How to Get a Restraining Order

Most people apply in court for a restraining order at the same time that they ask the judge to make orders on other family law issues, such as custody or support. You should talk to your lawyer about which court to choose before you apply. Here are some general rules to get you started.

You should apply in Provincial Court if:

  • You have children and you want protection for yourself
  • You have children and you want protection for yourself and them
  • You have, or are intending to apply for a child custody, guardianship or access order from Provincial Court

You should apply in Supreme Court if:

  • You do not have children and you want protection for yourself
  • You are intending to apply for a divorce and/or for division of property or custody/access in Supreme Court, or you have a child custody or access order from Supreme Court as part of your divorce

Did You Know?
If you need a lawyer and can’t afford one, you may be eligible for help from Legal Aid – a service providing free legal advice and representation. Look in the white pages of the phone book under ‘Legal Aid’ for an office near you. Or click here for more information.

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