On the Radar from CLEO
CLEO On The Radar
September 2023
Understanding protection orders
There are 2 main types of protection orders people can use when they're afraid someone is a threat to them or their children. These are:
  • restraining orders, and
  • peace bonds.
Protection orders can put limits on where a person can go, who they can communicate with, or both.
The type of protection order people choose depends on:
  • the relationship they have with the other person
  • how long they want the order to last
  • which court they go to
Not following the conditions in a protection order is a crime.
It can take a long time to get a protection order. People might want to make a safety plan to help them stay safe.
Restraining orders
A restraining order is an order from family court. Most often, it's used by people who:
  • were married or in a common-law relationship,
  • lived together for any length of time, or
  • have a child together.
They must prove that they have a reasonable fear that someone is a threat to:
Reasonable fear means that another person in the same situation would also be afraid. The person needs to bring evidence to court that shows that their fear is reasonable. For example, this could be text messages that contain threats or hospital records that show that the person was injured.
Peace bonds
A section 810 recognizance is more commonly called a peace bond. A peace bond is an order from criminal court. It's a promise that a person signs to say that they'll keep the peace and be of good behaviour.
People can apply for a peace bond against anyone, for example, a family member, neighbour, or co-worker.
They must prove that they have a reasonable fear that the other person will:
  • hurt them, someone in their family, or their pets,
  • damage their property, or
  • share an intimate image or video without permission.
Conditions to put in a protection order
Conditions are limits that the court places on someone. They can be very general. For example, the order could say that the person must stay one kilometre away from someone.
Conditions can also be specific. For example, an order could include the full names and addresses of places where the person cannot go.
People usually ask that the other person:
  • not communicate with them
  • stay a certain distance away from them, other people, or certain places, for example, a school, their home, or their workplace
The order might include exceptions, or times, when these rules do not apply. For example, this might be to allow parenting time with children.
Which protection order to choose
This chart shows some of the things that are similar and different between a restraining order and a peace bond.
  Restraining order Peace bond
Where to apply? Family court Criminal court
Is there a fee to apply? Maybe No
Who can it be against? Usually a person's current or former spouse or common-law partner, someone they lived with, or someone they share a child with. Anyone
Is the other person told about the application? Sometimes Always
What proof is needed? A reasonable fear that the other person will harm them or any child they have decision-making responsibility for. A reasonable fear that the other person will:
  • hurt them, someone in their family, or their pets,
  • damage their property, or
  • share an intimate image or video without permission.
How long does it last? Usually a specific length of time. But can also be set to last until a court agrees to remove it, which might never happen. Up to one year. But people can re-apply.
Is it a crime not to follow it? Yes Yes
Getting legal help
People do not need a lawyer to apply for a restraining order or a peace bond. But it's a good idea to get legal help.
This is true especially if there are other factors like immigration status or decision-making responsibility for a child.
A lawyer can give advice about which type of protection order to apply for and what conditions to ask for.
Legal help for survivors of abuse
Legal Aid Ontario offers 2 hours of free advice to people who have experienced family violence and need legal help right away. Call 1-800-668-8258.
The Independent Legal Advice for Sexual Assault Survivors Pilot Program offers 4 hours of free legal advice to people who:
  • have experienced sexual abuse, and
  • live in Toronto, Ottawa, or Thunder Bay.
To apply, people must fill out a voucher form or call 1-855-226-3904.
The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic helps women who have experienced physical, sexual, or psychological abuse in some family and immigration matters. Their services are free. Call 416-323-9149.
Luke's Place works with women in the Durham Region who:
  • have been abused, and
  • are involved or might become involved with the family law system.
Call 905-728-0978 or 1-866-516-3116.
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