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 Are you a Victim of Crime? 

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 You can ask for No-Contact With the Offender

Introduction
One of the ways the criminal justice system protects victims of crime is by ordering accused persons and offenders not to communicate with the victim or go see the victim. This is called a “no-contact condition”. 

An accused person is a person who has been arrested for a crime or charged with a crime. An offender is a person who has been convicted of a crime, either because he or she pled guilty or because there was a trial and the judge or jury found the person guilty.


How do no-contact conditions protect victims?
Sometimes victims, witnesses or their family members, are concerned that the accused person will contact them, harass or threaten them, or perhaps influence them to change their story about what happened. Some victims are even fearful of the accused.

A no-contact condition prohibits the accused person or offender from communicating with the victim. This means that the person is not allowed to contact the victim by telephone, e-mail, text message, social media or any other way. The person is also not allowed to communicate with the victim indirectly by asking someone to pass along a message, unless the court has allowed for a third party to communicate on specific issues (for example: scheduling access time with children).

A no-contact condition can require the accused person or offender to stay away from certain places, such as the victim’s home or workplace.

A no-contact condition is not a guarantee of safety. Victims should still take other precautions for their safety if they are concerned.


Do victims have to ask for a no-contact condition?
Victims who want a no-contact condition put in place should ask for one. It is important for victims to tell the police or the Crown prosecutor that they want a no-contact condition. The information will be put into the police file.

Victims can also ask for a no-contact condition if they are willing to participate in the Impact Statement Program. Victim Services, Public Safety, will provide the necessary application form. For more information, read the pamphlet, “Impact Statements.”


What about victims who want to stay in contact with the offender?
For certain offences, the Crown will ask for a no-contact order, even if the victim has not. In some circumstances the judge is required by law to impose no-contact provisions. If a victim wants to have contact with the accused, they should tell the police and the Crown prosecutor right away. If they don’t, they may find that the judge has ordered no-contact. If the accused is convicted of the crime, a victim who wants to stay in contact with the offender MUST fill out a Victim Consent Form BEFORE sentencing. Victims should make sure they speak with a Victim Services Coordinator.

The victim can fill out a Victim Consent Form at the Victim Services Office.

After a no-contact condition is in place, can a victim change their mind?
If, after a no-contact condition is in place, a victim changes his or her mind and wants to have contact resume, the matter will have to go before the court and be approved by a judge. If there is any contact before a new order, the offender could be charged with a new criminal offence and would likely be taken into custody. If the victim initiated the contact without following proper procedure, he or she could also be charged with a criminal offence. 

 

When and how are no-contact conditions made?
No-contact conditions can be made at several different times. These include:

  • When the police release a person on an undertaking
  • When a judge releases a person on an undertaking
  • When a judge sentences an offender to probation or a conditional sentence
  • When a judge sentences an offender to jail
  • When a judge sentences an offender for a sexual crime against a young person
  • When an offender is released early from jail
  • When a judge orders a peace bond or recognizance

There are some differences in no-contact conditions depending on when they were made. This is explained below.

When the police release a person on an undertaking:
When the police arrest a person for a crime, they can either take the person to jail or release the person into the community. If they release the person, they usually require him or her to give an “undertaking” to the police. An undertaking is a promise to follow certain conditions. It can include a no-contact condition and other conditions such as not having firearms.

When a judge releases a person on an undertaking:
If the police arrest a person and do not release him or her, there will be a “bail hearing” in court.
If the judge decides to release the person, the judge can require that the person give an undertaking to the judge. The undertaking can include a no-contact condition. If the person is charged with a crime where he or she used or threatened violence, the judge must consider including a no-contact condition and a firearms condition.
Even if the judge decides that the accused person must stay in jail, the judge can order the person not to contact the victim from jail.
A condition in an undertaking to a judge usually lasts until the accused person is either found not guilty or is convicted and sentenced.

When a judge sentences an offender to probation or a conditional sentence:

Judges are required to include a no-contact condition when they sentence an offender to probation or to a conditional sentence.
Sometimes a victim (or a parent/guardian) may want to give their consent to have contact with the offender. Or there may be other exceptional circumstances that make a no-contact condition inappropriate.
A no-contact condition in a sentence of probation or a conditional sentence order usually lasts for as long as the sentence does. A sentence of probation can last for up to three years, and a conditional sentence can last for up to two years.

For more information on how to properly give consent for contact, see the question What about victims who want to stay in contact with the offender?

When a judge sentences an offender to jail:

If a victim is concerned the offender may contact them from jail, the victim should tell the Crown prosecutor about their concern before the offender’s sentencing date.
A judge can order the offender not to contact the victim from jail.

When a judge sentences an offender for a sexual crime against a young person:

When an offender is convicted of a sexual offence against a person under sixteen years of age, the judge must consider including in the sentence an order called a “prohibition order”. A prohibition order can require the offender to:

  • not be within two kilometres (or another distance) of the victim’s home or other place set down in the order;
  • not have unsupervised contact with a person under sixteen;
  • not work or volunteer in a position where he or she has authority over persons under sixteen;
  • not use the internet;
  • not go to daycare centres, schools, playgrounds or community centres; and
  • not go to public parks or swimming areas where persons under sixteen may be present.

A prohibition order can last for the offender’s lifetime or for a shorter period.

When an offender is released early from jail:

Offenders who are sentenced to jail are often released early, either on a “temporary absence”, “parole” or “statutory release”. This means they are released from jail before the end of their sentence, but they are supervised in the community and are required to follow conditions. The conditions can include a no-contact condition.
Offenders sentenced to incarceration for two years or more will serve the sentence in a federal penitentiary.
If a victim requests a no-contact condition, the Parole Board of Canada and Correctional Service Canada must include a no-contact condition or explain their reasons for not including one if they release the offender early.
A no-contact condition on a temporary absence, parole or statutory release can last for all or part of the early release period.
Offenders sentenced to jail for less than two years will serve their sentence in a provincial institution. Victims can register with provincial Victim Services to be informed if the offender applies for parole.

When a judge orders a peace bond or recognizance:

A peace bond is an order made by a judge that requires a person (defendant) to keep the peace and be of good behavior.
A judge can order a peace bond if the defendant agrees, or if the judge holds a hearing and decides that a person has a good reason to fear the defendant will harm the person or the person’s child, spouse or common law partner or damage his or her property. A peace bond is also called a “recognizance.”
When a judge orders a peace bond, the judge must consider including a no-contact condition. The judge must also consider including a condition that the defendant not be allowed to have any firearms.
Usually a peace bond lasts up to one year. When a peace bond ends, the person who requested it can request another one if they have new evidence of their fear the defendant will harm them, a family member, or their property. 

 

No-Contact Conditions

What if a victim doesn’t want the offender to know his/her address?

If a victim does not want the accused person or offender to know where he or she lives or works, the victim should explain this when making a request for a no-contact condition.


What should a victim do if a no-contact condition is broken?

If a person breaks a no-contact condition, the victim should call the police immediately. The victim should also give the police anything that might help to prove that the condition was broken – for example, a text message or e-mail received by the victim.


What can happen to a person who breaks a no-contact condition?

The result of a person breaking a no-contact condition depends on when it was made. If it was made as part of an undertaking to the police, an undertaking to a judge, a sentence of probation, a prohibition order or a peace bond, the person can be charged with a crime and, if convicted, can be fined or sent to jail. If it was made as part of a conditional sentence, a temporary absence, parole or statutory release, the person can be required to serve the rest of their sentence in jail. 

 

Are there other ways the justice system protects victims?

Yes. There are several things the criminal justice system can do to make it easier for vulnerable victims of crime (such as victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, children, and disabled adults) to testify. For more information, see the PLEIS-NB pamphlet “Vulnerable Victims of Crime.”

There are also non-criminal methods the family law system uses to protect individuals from frequent unwanted contact, such as restraining orders. For more information, see the PLEIS-NB pamphlet “Peace Bonds and Restraining Orders.”

Resources

Victim Services Offices in New Brunswick

  • Bathurst 506-547-2924
  • Burton 506-357-4035
  • Campbellton 506-789-2388
  • Caraquet 506-726-2417
  • Edmundston 506-735-2543
  • Elsipogtog First Nation 506-523-4747
  • Fredericton 506-453-2768
  • Grand Falls 506-473-7706
  • Miramichi 506-627-4065
  • Moncton 506-856-2875
  • Richibucto 506-523-7150
  • Saint John 506-658-3742
  • Shediac 506-533-3338
  • St. Stephen 506-466-7414
  • Tracadie-Sheila 506-394-3690
  • Woodstock 506-325-4422

Websites:

Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick
www.legal-info-legale.nb.ca

Victim Services, Department of Justice and Public Safety (New Brunswick)
www.gnb.ca/publicsafety

Policy Centre for Victim Issues, Department of Justice (Canada)
www.victimsmatter.gc.ca

Victim Services, Correctional Service Canada
Atlantic Regional Headquarters
1045 Main Street, 2nd Floor
Moncton, NB E1C 1H1
Tel.: 1-866-806-2275
Fax: 506-851-4684
E-mail: GEN-ATLVictimServices@csc-scc.gc.ca
www.csc-scc.gc.ca/victims

Parole Board of Canada
Atlantic Regional Office
1045 Main Street, Unit 101
Moncton, NB E1C 1H1
Tel.: 506-851-6345
Fax: 506-851-6926
Email: info@PBC-CLCC.gc.ca
Information line for victims: 1-866-789-4636
www.pbc-clcc.gc.ca


Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick (PLEIS-NB) is a non-profit charitable organization. Its goal is to provide New Brunswickers with information on the law. PLEIS-NB receives funding and in-kind support from the Department of Justice Canada, the New Brunswick Law Foundation and the New Brunswick Office of the Attorney General.

This publication is one in a series of resources on victims rights. Check out Know Your Rights and Making a Complaint. We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of the New Brunswick Department of Public Safety, Victim Services. Many thanks to the professionals, Crown prosecutors, and other members of the New Brunswick Law Society who assisted with the review of this publication.

This publication does not contain a complete statement of the law in this area and laws change from time to time. Anyone needing advice on his or her specific legal position should consult a lawyer.


Jointly published by:

Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick
P.O. Box 6000
Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1
Tel.: 506-453-5369
Fax: 506-462-5193
Email: pleisnb@web.ca
www.legal-info-legale.nb.ca

and

Department of Justice and Public Safety
P.O. Box 6000
Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1
Tel.: 506-453-3992
www.gnb.ca/publicsafety

ISBN: 978-1-4605-0413-0

March 2016


Disclaimer: Please note that our website contains general information about the law. This is not a complete statement of the law on particular topics. We try to update our publications often, but laws change frequently so it is important for you to check to make sure the information is up to date.  The information in our publications is not a substitute for legal advice. To receive legal advice about your specific situation, you need to speak to a lawyer.