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:
- A peace bond is a protection order made under the Criminal Code of Canada and can protect you from anyone, including someone you have only dated, such as a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend. You do not need a lawyer to apply for a peace bond. You call the police or RCMP to ask for one. If the application for a peace bond proceeds, Crown counsel will be involved. If there is a court hearing, it will be in criminal court.
- A family law protection order (commonly referred to as a “protection order”) is a protection order made under the Family Law Act that can protect you from a family member, which includes your partner or former partner, your child’s parent or guardian, a relative of the above who lives with them, or a relative of yours who lives with you. 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.
Peace Bonds and Family Law Protection Orders
Peace bonds and family law protection orders are two types of protection orders. Peace bonds are issued in criminal court and protection orders are issued in civil court.
For more information, see For Your Protection: Peace Bonds and Family Law Protection Orders on the Legal Services Society’s Family Law in BC website. The guide is also in French, Chinese-traditional, Chinese-simplified, Punjabi and Farsi.
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.
If you are afraid that a specific individual may harm you, your children, or your current partner, you may also want to consider applying for a protection order. Likewise, if you have experienced family violence, or feel you are in danger of family violence, you may want to consider applying for a protection order. Family violence includes physical abuse (or attempts), including being locked up or denied food or other basic needs; emotional or mental abuse, such as being intimidated, harassed, stalked, threatened, or having your property damaged; sexual abuse (or attempts); and/or children being exposed to violence in the home.
How will a protection order protect me?
The person identified in the protection order is required to follow the conditions of the order. Police can issue a warrant for his or her arrest if the person breaches the conditions of the order (in other words, fails to follow any of the conditions). Disobeying a protection order is a criminal offence, and the person could be charged with an offence for breaching the order. If convicted, he or she could face serious consequences, including a fine, probation, or time in jail.
British Columbia maintains a confidential database containing all civil and criminal protection orders issued in the province called the Protection Order Registry (POR). Protection orders issued in B.C. courts or by the police are then sent to the POR and entered in the database on the same day they are received. The police have 24-hour access to the POR and can obtain a copy of the order within minutes.
Who can I speak with to get more information about protection orders including how to apply for them?
To get more information about protection orders, including how to apply for them, you can contact the provincial Victim Safety Unit. To speak to a member of the Victim Safety Unit call 604-660-0316 or 1-877-315-8822 (toll-free in B.C.). You can also email the Victim Safety Unit at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Victim Safety Unit can assist you with the following:
- Provide general information about protection orders and how to apply for one
- Explain the difference between peace bonds and family law protection orders
- Confirm that your protection order is entered into the provincial Protection Order Registry
- 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 already have a protection order, you can also register with the Victim Safety Unit to receive relevant notifications
If you are registered with the Victim Safety Unit to receive ongoing notifications, the Victim Safety Unit can also:
- Provide notification of the custody status of the named individual while they are in a BC Corrections facility (jail) or reporting to Community Corrections (bail or probation)
- Provide a reminder that the protection order is nearing expiry and discuss options for renewal if there are ongoing safety concerns
NOTE: The Victim Safety Unit does not have access to information about someone in police custody and you should contact police for this information.
To register for ongoing notification services, refer to Help Starts Here: Information on Victim Notification.
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 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 also provide you with the ongoing notifications listed above.