Court Orders for Your Protection
A court order is a document from the court that states a judge’s decision and rules that must be followed. You may need a court order to protect you if you:
- Have been recently harmed by someone, or
- Are afraid that someone will harm you.
If you have a court order in place to protect you, you should have a safety plan. The person who harmed you may disobey the order. A safety plan helps keep you and your family safe.
For more information about safety plans, see our publications Making a Safety Plan or Health and Safety Plan for Indigenous Families. Victim Services, Family Violence Prevention Services, and the RISE Program can help you make a safety plan.
There are three kinds of orders in the criminal law system that can have conditions to protect you.
Undertakings (Issued by a Police Officer or Justice of the Peace)
An undertaking is a court order that gives conditions (rules) a person charged with a crime must follow until the court process is done.
The accused is a person charged with a crime. If the person who harmed you is charged with a crime, they are called the accused.
Until court proceedings are finished, the accused will:
- Be released back into the community, or
- Remain in custody (jail).
If the accused is released back into the community, the court will give them an undertaking.
A probation order is a court order with conditions (rules) that the offender must follow when they are on probation.
An offender is a person found guilty of a crime by the court. If the person who harmed you is found guilty of a crime, they are called the offender. The court may give them a probation order with conditions that they must follow while they are on probation.
Conditions in a probation order may include that the offender:
- Must attend an assessment, counselling, and/or treatment for drug use, alcohol use, or anger management.
- Can’t contact you, your children or family members.
- Must stay away from your home and/or workplace.
Peace Bonds (Also Called Recognizances)
A peace bond is a legal promise signed by a person you fear. It usually requires that they have no contact with you, behave well, and follow other conditions the judge orders. It is also called a recognizance order.
You can apply for a peace bond against any person causing you to fear for your personal safety or your property. The court will only order a peace bond if it is convinced that there is a good reason for it.
There are three kinds of court orders in the family law system that have conditions to protect you.
A restraining order is a court order under the Family Law Act that requires your spouse or ex-spouse to stop harassing you and/or your children. You can only apply for a restraining order if you are already living apart with no plans to live together again. These orders apply to married and unmarried spouses.
Married spouses are spouses who had a recognized marriage ceremony.
Unmarried spouses are spouses who have not had a recognized marriage ceremony. Unmarried spouses are also called common-law spouses.
On PEI, unmarried spouses must:
- Have lived together in a sexual relationship for three years or more, or
- Be the natural or adoptive parents of one or more children.
Some federal government programs define unmarried spouses differently than PEI’s Family Law Act. For more information, read our publication Family Law Essentials.
Restraining orders can be used in harassment situations. For example, you can apply for a restraining order if your ex constantly phones you or goes to your house, even if they are not threatening to harm you.
Emergency Protection Order
An Emergency Protection Order (EPO) is a court order that can give immediate legal protection to victims of family violence. An EPO is:
- Available 24 hours a day.
- Ordered by a Justice of the Peace.
- Effective as soon as the person who harmed you is served a copy of the order.
- In effect for as long as directed by the Justice of the Peace (up to 90 days).
If the person who harmed you avoids receiving the EPO, a Justice of the Peace may decide that service of the order is not required. Service means delivering a legal document to someone. This is usually to their home or to their lawyer. In these cases, the EPO is still active even though the person who harmed you has not received a copy of it.
Victim Assistance Order
A Victim Assistance Order (VAO) is a longer-term tool to help victims of family violence. It can be used:
- For non-emergency situations.
- When an Emergency Protection Order (EPO) is about to expire.