Script 217 gives information only, not legal advice. If you have a legal problem or need legal advice, you should speak to a lawyer. For the name of a lawyer to consult, call Lawyer Referral at 604.687.3221 in the lower mainland or 1.800.663.1919 elsewhere in British Columbia.
This script explains what to do if someone threatens or assaults you. You have two choices:
- apply for a peace bond against a person who has threatened to hurt you or damage your property, or
- file assault charges against a person who has hurt or threatened you.
Also, check scripts:
- 215, called “Charging Someone with a Criminal Offense”
- 206, called “Stalking, Criminal Harassment and Cyberbullying”
What is a peace bond?
A peace bond is a court order designed to prevent an assault. A peace bond orders a person to be of good behaviour and obey conditions the judge orders, for up to a year. One condition may be that the person must not go to your home or work or contact you (by phone, email, text message, through another person, or any other way).
How do you apply for a peace bond?
You can apply to court for a peace bond against anyone who has seriously threatened to hurt you or damage your property. It could be a stranger, a spouse, or a family member. You have to show the court that you fear the person, that you have good reason for your fear, and that the person has seriously threatened you. If that’s your case, you should file a report with the police. The police will then decide whether to ask a court to issue a peace bond. Give the police as many details of the threat as possible. If the threat continues, keep a record of every time it happens and every voicemail, email, text message, and other record the person used, with the exact words used in the threat.
If the police don’t ask the court for a peace bond, you may apply for one yourself. Go to a Provincial Court, criminal division, and ask a justice of the peace about how to apply for a peace bond. If the person who threatened you is under 18, go to youth court instead of adult criminal division.
To begin the process, you will need to complete a document, called an “information,” naming the person who threatened to hurt you or damage your property. It is a sworn document that you will complete with the Justice of the Peace. This just starts the paperwork for a hearing before a judge who can issue the peace bond. You don’t need a lawyer at the hearing because the prosecutor (also called Crown Counsel or Crown), will ask the judge for the peace bond.
Depending on the circumstances you provide to the Justice of the Peace, the justice of the peace may issue a warrant so the police can arrest the person before the hearing. If the police arrest the person, the person may be released by the court with conditions – if they promise not to contact you or go to your home or work before the final hearing.
If the judge issues a peace bond, make a copy of it and keep it with you. If the person disobeys the peace bond, call the police immediately. They can arrest the person and charge them with a criminal offense. That could lead to a fine and up to 6 months in jail. If the peace bond includes your children, give a copy to the principal at their school or daycare, and to sports coaches and recreation instructors, etc.
How do you file assault charges?
If a person hurts you, or threatens to hurt you, you can ask the police to charge the person with assault under the Criminal Code. If the police won’t charge the person, you can ask the Crown, to do it. If the Crown also refuses to charge the person, you can still do other things; check script 215, called “Charging Someone with a Criminal Offence.” The Criminal Code is available at laws.justice.gc.ca. Click on “English” and then on “Criminal Code”.
If the Crown charges the person, the police will arrest the person. You don’t need a lawyer because the Crown makes the case against the person. The person can apply to court for bail to get out of jail. One condition of bail will probably be a “no contact order” to ensure the person doesn’t contact you.
There are two types of assault. Common assault is less serious – for example, a person hits you or threatens to hit you, but you don’t need medical treatment. Penalties include fines and jail terms up to 6 months. Assault causing bodily harm is more serious – for example, a person uses a weapon to attack you or you need medical treatment for your injuries. Penalties include jail terms up to 10 years.
[updated June 2012]
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