Can you have your Criminal Record Pardoned in Canada?
What is the difference between a pardon and a suspended record?
In 2012 the Canadian Pardons Program was changed to the Record Suspension Program, despite some procedural and eligibility changes, a record suspension is essentially a pardon and will allow you to live your life without the constraints of a Criminal Record.
What does it mean to suspend your record?
Having your criminal record suspended essentially sets aside your conviction. This means that your criminal record will no longer show up in a standard criminal record check.
Having your criminal record suspended has many benefits including: helping you get a job, get into an education program, allowing you to volunteer, make it easier to travel, allow you to join the military, allow you to obtain a professional license, and make it easier to obtain housing.
There are still limitations when your criminal record is suspended:
- If you were convicted of a sexual offence, it will be flagged by the Canadian Policing Information Centre (CPIC) and will still come up if you are applying to work with vulnerable persons or children.
- It does not guarantee visa privileges to another Country. In particular, if you are travelling to the United States, they will be able to see your record suspension and may still refuse entry, this is why even after your record is suspended you should obtain a U.S. travel waiver before you go. For other countries this may not be an issue, but it is always best to check with the individual Country before you go especially if you have a layover in the U.S.
- It can be revoked if you are convicted of a new crime, you were misleading on your application; or you are no longer of good conduct.
When can you apply to have my record suspended?
To figure out when you can apply for a record suspension you will need to determine the date of your last offence, the date your last sentence ended, and whether you were convicted of an indictable offence or a summary conviction.
If your last offence was committed before June 28, 2010
The waiting period is:
5 years – after your sentence ends for an offence prosecuted by indictment (these are more serious offences).
3 years – after you sentence has ended for an offence punishable on summary conviction (these are less serious offences).
If your last offence was committed between June 29, 2010, and March 12, 2012
The waiting period is:
10 years — after your sentence has ended for serious personal injury offence (within the meaning of 752 of the Criminal Code); including manslaughter; an offence for which you were sentenced to a prison term of 2 years or more, and an offence referred to in Schedule 1(sexual offence involving a minor) that was prosecuted by indictment.
5 years — after your sentence has ended for any other offence prosecuted by indictment and an offence referred to in Schedule 1 (sexual offence involving a minor) that is punishable on summary conviction.
3 years — after your sentence has ended for an offence other than the ones mentioned above, that is punishable on summary conviction.
If your last offence was committed on or after March 13, 2012
The waiting period is:
10 years — after your sentence has ended for an offence prosecuted by indictment.
5 years — after your sentence has ended for an offence that is punishable on summary conviction.
10 Steps to Criminal Record Suspension
- Contact your local police station and obtain a copy of your original Criminal Record or Certification of No Criminal Record AND Proof of Conviction documents. You will need to provide the police with your full name and date of birth to obtain this information. If you are in Regina this link will allow you to book an appointment to obtain this information: https://reginapolice.ca/resources/criminal-record-check/.
- Fill out a Court Information Form(s). You will fill out the personal information and the contact information, you will then provide a copy to the Court House(s) that heard your case, along with a copy of your Criminal Record and have them fill out the “for Court use only” section of the form. Make sure the information on your Court Information Form is the same as on your Criminal Record, if there are discrepancies ask the Court for a Proof of Conviction Document. Click here to obtain a Court House Information Form: https://www.canada.ca/en/parole-board/corporate/publications-and-forms/court-information-form.html.
- If you are or have been in the Military obtain a Military Conduct Sheet. If you are currently in the Military this can be requested from your Commanding Officer if you are no longer serving in the Military you can fill out a Personal Information Request Form here: https://www.canada.ca/en/parole-board/services/record-suspensions/step-3-get-your-military-conduct-sheet.html.
- Fill out page one of the Local Police Records Check Form and then contact the local Police Force where you are currently living and anywhere you have lived in the last 5 years and have them fill out the remainder of the form. The Local Police Records Check Form can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/parole-board/corporate/publications-and-forms/local-police-records-check-form.html. You will need to provide the Police with a copy of your Criminal Record and your I.D.
*Make sure the Police sign, date stamp and provide a local police service official seal or stamp.
- Make a photocopy of your photo I.D. It must be a valid Government issued I.D. that has your name, date of birth, and signature.
- If you were convicted of a Schedule 1 offence (a sexual offence involving a minor) that was committed after March 12, 2012 you will need to fill out a Schedule 1 Exception Form which can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/parole-board/corporate/publications-and-forms/schedule-1-exception-form.html. If you were convicted of a Schedule 1 offence that was committed after March 12, 2012 you are ineligible for a record suspension unless you can satisfy the Parole Board that:
- was not in a position of trust or authority towards the victim of the offence and the victim was not in a relationship of dependency with him or her;
- did not use, threaten to use or attempt to use violence, intimidation or coercion in relation to the victim; and,
- was less than five years older than the victim.
- Fill out a Record Suspension Form: https://www.canada.ca/en/parole-board/corporate/publications-and-forms/record-suspension-application-form.html. Make sure you answer every question and do so honestly. Print all your answers in black or blue ink. It must be signed within one year of submitting it. If any of your contact information changes after submission be sure to notify the Parole Board immediately as your application cannot be processed if you cannot be contacted to verify information.
- If your most recent offence was committed after June 29, 2010 you will need to fill out a Measurable Benefit/ Sustained rehabilitation Form found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/parole-board/corporate/publications-and-forms/measurable-benefit-sustained-rehabilitation-form.html.
- Pay your application processing fee. The fee must be submitted with your application in the form of a bank draft, money order, certified cheque, or credit card. If you wish to pay with a credit card you can fill out the Record Suspension Application Processing Fee Credit Card Payment Form here: https://www.canada.ca/en/parole-board/corporate/publications-and-forms/credit-card-payment-form-record-suspension-application.html.
- Review, Review, Review!!! You do not want any mistakes so review each step, make sure everything is filled out, correct and honest. Include original copies of all documents but make sure that you keep copies of everything for your records. Many documents may be difficult to obtain in the future if your record is suspended.
If you need help dealing with an existing criminal charge or a historical one, contact one our experienced Criminal Defence Lawyers at Nychuk & Co. today.