Information on Protection Orders
What is a protection order?
A protection order is a court order made by a judge to help protect one person from another. A protection order lists conditions for a named individual to follow that may require that individual to have no contact, or limited contact, with the person being protected or that person’s children and/or family. The conditions may include not going to the protected person’s home or workplace, no phone calls, emails, or letters, and no messages through a friend or relative. The order may include other conditions as well.
There are two main types of protection orders:
- peace bonds
- family law protection orders
A peace bond (legally referred to as an “810 recognizance”) is a protection order made under the Criminal Code of Canada and can protect you from anyone, including someone you have only dated.
You call the police to ask for one. You do not need a lawyer to request a peace bond, and there is no fee involved.
If your application for a peace bond proceeds, the prosecutor (called Crown counsel) will be involved. If there is a court hearing, it will be in criminal court.
A peace bond does not create a criminal record.
Family law protection order
A family law protection order (commonly referred to as a “protection order”) is a civil protection order made under the Family Law Act. Unlike a peace bond, a family law protection order does not require the involvement of the criminal justice system.
You can apply for a family law protection order in either Provincial Court or Supreme Court. You can apply for one on its own, or when you apply for other family court orders.
It can protect you from a family member, which includes someone you are or were married to; someone you live or lived with in a marriage-like relationship for any amount of time; your children's other parent or legal guardian; a relative of your spouse who lives with them; a relative of your children's other parent or legal guardian who lives with them; a relative of yours who lives with you; and your own children. A step-by-step guide along with the forms required to apply for a family law protection order has been published by the Legal Aid BC.
If you are seeking protection from a family member as defined above, you can apply for both a Family Law Protection Order and a Peace Bond at the same time. Both types of protection orders are in effect for one year from the date they are made, unless a judge says otherwise. If the protection order is due to expire, an extension may be considered by a judge upon request.
For more information about protection orders, please see the brochure Family Law Protection Orders (available in English, French, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Farsi and Punjabi).
When should I get a protection order?
It is a crime for anyone (including your spouse) to assault you or your children, harass or stalk you, threaten you with bodily harm, or damage your property. You are encouraged to report this to the police.
Whether or not a crime as noted above has occurred, if you are afraid that a specific individual may harm you, your children, or your current partner, you may want to consider applying for a protection order.
Likewise, if you have experienced intimate partner violence, or feel you are in danger of intimate partner violence, you may want to consider applying for a protection order. Intimate partner violence includes physical or sexual assaults, threats, criminal harassment, publication of intimate images without consent, or mischief to cause fear, trauma, suffering or loss to an intimate partner. This type of violence can occur regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Do I qualify for a protection order?
It is difficult to give advice on whether you may be granted a protection order but applying for one is an option if you feel it would increase your safety or security.
For Peace Bonds, the court must determine if the fear of future harm is based on reasonable grounds. If the police don’t agree to send a report to Crown counsel asking for a peace bond application, you can consult a lawyer, or you can go to the court registry at the nearest courthouse and ask to speak to a justice of the peace. A justice of the peace can give you the documents you need to swear an “Information” yourself. This process is further described on the People’s Law School website.
For Family Law Protection Orders, the court must determine that intimate partner violence is likely to occur and that an individual is at-risk. If the judge in family court denies your application for a family law protection order, speak to your lawyer or duty counsel about re-applying for the family law protection order or about getting a conduct order.
Protection Order Registry – How will a protection order protect me?
The person identified in the peace bond or family law protection order is required to follow the conditions of the order from the moment the judge orders it verbally. If the person breaches the conditions of the order (in other words, fails to follow any of the conditions) call the police right away. The police may charge them with a criminal offence for breaching the conditions of the order and they may be arrested. If convicted, they could face serious consequences, including a fine, probation, or time in jail.
If you call the police to report that an individual has disobeyed a protection order, they can act to enforce the order right away. Police in British Columbia have access to your protection order on the Protection Order Registry, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Protection Order Registry (POR) is a confidential database containing all family law and criminal protection orders issued in the province.
You do not have to ask that your order be registered in the Protection Order Registry. Court staff do this without request, in most cases on the same day that the order is signed by the judge. If you want to confirm that your order is on the Protection Order Registry, you can contact:
- VictimLinkBC at 1-800-563-0808 or by emailing VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca, or
- The Victim Safety Unit at 604-660-0316 (Lower Mainland) or 1-877-315-8822 (toll-free) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if I move to another province?
Peace bonds can be enforced by police or RCMP anywhere in Canada.
- Visit your local police
- Show them a copy of your order
- Tell them about your situation
For help with family law protection orders, check with a lawyer or the nearest court registry in your new province.
Court staff will tell you if, and how, you can register your existing order with the courts in your new location or if you will have to apply for a new one. They may ask you to take a copy of your order to the local police.
Who can I contact to get more information about protection orders, including how to apply for them?
- Provide general information about protection orders and how to apply for one
- Explain the difference between peace bonds and family law protection orders
- Provide you with support and referrals regarding your situation
I already have a protection order. Who can I contact for more information about my order?
To get more information about your protection order, you can contact the provincial Victim Safety Unit by calling 604-660-0316 (Lower Mainland) or 1-877-315-8822 (toll-free) or by emailing email@example.com.
The Victim Safety Unit can:
- Assist you in understanding the conditions of your order
- Provide a copy of your protection order if you have misplaced or lost your copy
- Provide information about how to report a breach of the order
If you are named as a protected party on a protection order you can register with the Victim Safety Unit to receive relevant notifications including a reminder that your protection order is about to expire and (if applicable) the BC Corrections custody status of the named person on your protection order.
Information on how to register for ongoing notification services is available from the Victim Safety Unit.
What about other orders from criminal court?
Where criminal charges have been laid, there may be other court orders that contain protective conditions, such as bail, probation or conditional sentence orders. These orders may include conditions to have no contact with you or your children, or your family or friends, and not to go to specific addresses such as your residence, workplace or school. It is possible for criminal court orders to be in place at the same time as a protection order. The Victim Safety Unit can help you to understand these orders and conditions. If you are registered with the Victim Safety Unit, they can provide you with ongoing notifications about the status of an adult accused/offender who is going through the criminal court process in British Columbia or is being supervised by BC Corrections.