What else can be done?

The previous section explained what a protection order is. Here are some other things you can do if you are facing family violence.

Criminal charges

Protection orders are made under the Family Law Act, but there are other protections for people facing family violence under criminal law. If the police get information that a crime, like physical assault, may have happened, they will investigate the situation by talking to the people involved, as well as any witnesses. If they believe someone should be charged with a criminal offence, they will send a report to the Crown Counsel who will decide whether to charge the person with an offence.

Can the victim drop the criminal charges?

An accused person often pressures the victim to drop criminal charges. Or, sometimes a victim changes his or her mind about how bad the abuse was. If you change your mind, you should talk to the police or Crown Counsel about it. You can also talk to a victim services worker. It is the Crown’s decision whether to go ahead with criminal charges, not yours. That means that charges may not be dropped, even if you say you want to drop them. The criminal charges may lead to a trial.

Will the accused person go to jail?

If the accused is convicted of a criminal offence, the judge will decide what sentence they get. Sometimes the convicted person will be sent to jail. If the convicted person is not a permanent resident, it could affect their immigration status, which should be discussed with a lawyer.

Peace bonds

If you are a victim of family violence, you can get a protection order through the Family Provincial Court without police involvement or criminal charges against the abuser. However, police and Crown Counsel may also go ahead with criminal charges and a “peace bond”.

A peace bond is an order made by a criminal court. A judge can impose a peace bond on someone who has threatened to hurt you. For example, if a family member threatens to hurt another family member or damage property, you should file a report with the police. The police will decide whether to recommend a peace bond to Crown Counsel.

If ordered, a peace bond means that the person who threatened you must promise to “keep the peace” and follow the rules the judge decides on. For example, the person may not be able to go near your home for 6 months. If that person does not follow the rules, Crown Counsel may go ahead with the original criminal charges as well as charges for not obeying the peace bond.

It is possible to get a peace bond even if a protection order is already in place. The booklet For Your Protection, written in several languages, has more about the differences between peace bonds and protection orders.

Also see the booklet Surviving Relationship Violence and Abuse. 

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