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SECTION 127 OF THE CRIMINAL CODE: CAN A “COMMON LAW PEACE BOND” BE BREACHED?

In R. v. Morrison, 2022 ABPC 246, December 6, 2022, the accused was charged with an offence, contrary to section 127 of the Criminal Code.  It was alleged that he failed to comply with a “common law peace bond”.  He sought to enter a plea of guilty.

The presiding judge would not accept the plea of guilty and entered a plea of not guilty.  Judge Fraser concluded as follows (at paragraphs 8 to 11):

I turn now to the plea before the court.  The plea occurred in docket court and as such under the new system the Information is not before the court and I am not provided a copy which is a significant impediment in determining if the facts support the charge.  After refusing to accept the plea, I requested to see the Information and the document purporting to be the peace bond the accused signed placing him on these conditions.  The document was a Release Order in Form 11 requiring a cash deposit of $150 and containing multiple conditions.  It had no date on it, no accused’s signature and no one else’s signature.  Most significantly it had no expiry date or termination date.  An 810 peace bond recognizance cannot be for a period longer than 12 months (Section 810(3)).  This Order would place him on these conditions forever.  It is understandable there is no expiry date on a Form 11 Release Order because it is in force until the charges in the Information it relates to are resolved, at which point it no longer has any force or effect.  This Release Order has no relation to any Information or charge and remains in force forever.

I then examined the Information.  It did not say anything about a breach of a common law peace bond.  Instead it was a charge under Section 127(1) of the Criminal Code.  It charged the accused with disobeying a lawful order made by a clerk of the court.  Since when do clerks issue judicial orders?  There is no violation of Section 127(1) and it is not the proper charge in the circumstances.  The reason the Crown lays a charge under Section 127 I assume is because there is no other proper charge for violating a condition of a common law peace bond like there is for violating an 810 peace bond recognizance in Section 811 which only applies to 810 peace bonds.  That brings me back to Section 9 of the Criminal Code which has eliminated common law offences.  There is no offence for breaching a common law peace bond because there are no common law offences.  The Crown is attempting to force something that does not exist into something that does exist for another purpose and it does not fit.

For these reasons I find the accused has committed no offence known in law and specifically has not committed any offence as set out in the Information under Section 127(1) of the Criminal Code.  For that reason I cannot accept the guilty plea.

If the Crown wishes to proceed with the charge in the Information as they have indicated they do, I enter a plea of not guilty and direct the matter be set down for trial.  I recuse myself from hearing the trial.