Who can grant or issue a pardon/record suspension?
The Parole Board of Canada (PBC) has exclusive jurisdiction to grant, refuse to grant or to revoke a pardon/record suspension. The law that governs pardons/record suspensions is known as the Criminal Records Act (CRA). The Criminal Records Act provides for the relief of persons who have been convicted of offences and have subsequently rehabilitated themselves.
What is a criminal record?
A criminal record is a record of criminal activity, regardless of the outcome in court. A criminal record may be held by the arresting police, in the CPIC database maintained by the RCMP in Ottawa, and with the relevant court. Even after several years and, even if it concerns a minor offence, a criminal record does not disappear automatically. A prior criminal record can create obstacles to many important things in life, including travel and employment and can be used to justify a harsher sentence in the event of further offences.
How do I know if I have a criminal record?
If you have been charged with a crime, even if you were found not guilty, or were never convicted, you do have a criminal record. If you have been fingerprinted for your offence, a fingerprint number (FPS#) is assigned to your name and date of birth and will exist until you take steps to have this record cleared. Even if you were not fingerprinted, if you were charged with an offence under the criminal code you may still require a pardon/record suspension (if you were convicted) or a file destruction (if you were not convicted).
My criminal record hasn’t affected my life yet. Why do I need a pardon/record suspension?
Even if your criminal record has not affected your life yet there is a good chance that someday it will. People want to have their record pardoned/suspended for many reasons. Most people simply want to make sure they are no longer associated with the mistakes they made in the past. Your peace of mind is one important reason to obtain your pardon/record suspension. We strongly recommend that anyone with a criminal record obtain a pardon/record suspension. Our society strongly encourages rehabilitation. Simply put, you are lucky enough to live in a country that allows the pardoning/suspending of criminal records. You should take advantage of that.
How long does it take to get a pardon/record suspension?
It takes an average of 9-18 months for a pardon/record suspension application to be processed and granted. However, to prepare the pardon/record suspension application, many documents must be collected. Acquiring the proper supporting documents from various law enforcement and government agencies takes between 3-10 months. Therefore, it is a good idea to start preparing the application well in advance of your eligibility date. In fact, most people cannot even determine what their eligibility date is until after they have acquired RCMP reports and relevant court documents.
When I was in the military I had several military charges. Will these be dealt with when I apply for a pardon/record suspension?
We, at Pardons and Waivers, will collect the necessary documents pertaining to your military convictions and will ensure they are included in your application. This way those military convictions will be reviewed and potentially removed.
What is a criminal record?
This is a record of any and all criminal activity. Your criminal record does not depend on whether or not you are convicted. The arresting police may hold the criminal record. Even minor offenses can have a significant effect on your life in the near and distant future. Criminal records can result in additional obstacles when it comes to things like employment, travel, and even volunteering.
Do I have a criminal record?
If you have been charged with a crime, you have a criminal record. Even if you were found not guilty or not convicted of the crime, the record is still there. If you were fingerprinted, you will have a fingerprint number assigned to your name along with your date of birth. Pardons or record suspensions can be filed for those who were convicted and, if you were not convicted, you can request a file destruction.
What is a record suspension or pardon?
Record suspensions or pardons allow those who were convicted of a crime to have their criminal record separated from their active criminal record. Of course, in order to be approved for a record suspension or pardon, it’s important that the basic criteria are met. You must have completed the sentence and demonstrate that you are now a law-abiding citizen.
What are my chances of having my pardon or record suspension request granted?
You need to wait for 5 or 10 years after the completion of the imposed sentence. You should also have no subsequent violations during this time and you should keep all of the relevant documents in good condition too. In some cases, pardons or suspensions are not granted. This applies to sexual offenses against minors or if you have more than three convictions with sentencing of more than 2 years of jail time.
How long will it take to get a pardon or record suspension?
On average, it usually takes between 12 and 24 months for the application to be processed and the pardon granted. That said, there’s a lot of paperwork involved and acquiring everything needed to submit a complete and comprehensive application can take from 3 to 10 months. This is why it’s always a good idea to start preparing in advance. So, if you know that you are likely to be eligible within the next year, it’s good to start now.
What happens if my pardon application is denied?
Our team works meticulously through all the details of your application in order to ensure approval. That said, if an applicant is not completely forthcoming, this can affect the outcome of the application. Full disclosure by the applicant is a must. If the application is denied, the applicant must wait another year to reapply.
Can I submit my own pardon or record suspension application?
You are welcome to submit the paperwork yourself. However, since the process can be quite tricky and rules have a way of changing without much notice, it’s best to make sure that you have experts in your corner.
After my pardon or record suspension is granted, what happens to my criminal record file?
Once you are granted a pardon or record suspension, the records that are kept by federal agencies are separated from your current record. These records are not disclosed unless approval by the Minister of Public Safety grants access to them. This is extremely rare. Disclosure is restricted unless you are a registered sex offender or if there is a prohibition order.
Why apply for a record suspension or pardon?
When you have a criminal record, it can result in a number of disadvantages in various areas of life. This includes, but is not limited to, employment, volunteering, loans, adoption, travel, renting or buying a property, and so on. Whenever somebody needs to check your criminal record, it could instantly disqualify you. If, however, you are granted a pardon, your record will no longer show up.
What if I get charged again after my pardon or record suspension is granted?
If you have a pardon or record suspension and you are charged again, your pardon will be revoked. If you are convicted of a serious offense (indictable offense), your record suspension will cease and all of your past convictions will appear again on your criminal record. If you are convicted of a less serious offense (summary offense), or if you are given a discharge, your pardon might be revoked if it comes to light that deceptive statements were made or anything was concealed during the pardon application process.
After my pardon or record suspension is granted and I am asked if I have ever been convicted of a criminal offense, how should I respond?
Once you receive a pardon or record suspension, it is as though it never happened. You may only be asked if you have a criminal record or even if you have a criminal record and have not yet been granted a pardon or record suspension. To this question, you can definitely answer, “No”. The potential employer may not ask you if you have been granted a pardon or record suspension.
Must I apply for a separate pardon for multiple offenses?
If the waiting periods for each of the offenses has passed and all other requirements are met, you need only submit a single application.
Will an old criminal record automatically disappear?
No, this is a common misconception. It is up to you to take the necessary steps to have the record removed.
What about convicted sex offenders?
If you receive a pardon or record suspension for sex offenses (or any other offenses classified as Schedule 1), your record will be kept separate. Your name will, however, still be flagged in the CPIC system. So, if you need to provide a criminal record check in order to work with certain groups of people (like children), this kind of conviction will be disclosed for safety reasons. That said, if the job you are applying for does not involve anyone deemed vulnerable, then this record is not disclosed. If you are convicted of sexually assaulting a minor, you are not eligible for a pardon or record suspension.
How do pardons and record suspensions differ from a file purge or destruction?
If you are found guilty and convicted of a crime, you will need a pardon or record suspension. Your file (photographs, fingerprints, etc) is then sealed along with any court records and the police report. If you are accused of a crime but you are not convicted, a file destruction or purge ensures that all of the relevant documentation, including photographs and fingerprints, are destroyed. You will be provided with proof of this.
When will I be eligible for a pardon or record suspension?
The waiting period could be anything from ‘no waiting period’ to 10 years. It depends on the offense. If you were charged with a sexual offense involving a minor or if you have 4 or more indictable convictions with 2 or more years of jail time, you will not be granted a record suspension or pardon.
What is a youth record?
Youth records include charges against you, sentences received, findings of guilt, and details regarding whether or not you have served your sentence. The outcome of the case will determine how long the youth record remains on file.
How long will my youth record be on file?
Summary convictions (minor) remain on file for 3 years after the sentence is completed. Indictable (serious) convictions remain on your record for 5 years after the sentence is completed. The waiting period begins at the end of the final deposition. In very serious cases like violent crimes and sexual assault, your youth record can be open for 10 years or more.
Will my youth record reflect on my adult records and do adult convictions affect youth records?
If you were convicted under the Young Offenders Act, your youth record should be removed after the waiting time has expired. If convicted under a prior act, your record is most likely still on file. If you are convicted as an adult before your youth records are removed, then your youth record is “locked in” to your adult record permanently. This is until you are granted a pardon or record suspension.
Will my youth records be physically destroyed?
No, they are closed and removed from ‘active files’ but they are not destroyed but they cannot simply be accessed.
Will my youth records disappear when I turn 18?
No, there is a time period on the record and this depends on the offense – not your age.
Do I need a pardon or record suspension for my youth offenses?
If you are convicted of an offense as a young offender but not as an adult, the record will be sealed after the waiting period has passed. In this case, there is no need for a pardon or record suspension. If you were convicted of an offense as a youth and an adult before the waiting period passed, then your youth record is ‘locked in’ to your adult record. In this case, you will need a pardon or record suspension for both youth and adult convictions.
If you were convicted as a young offender before 1984, you will need a record suspension or pardon to remove these convictions.
Will I be able to travel to the U.S with a youth record?
No. Even though youth records should not be accessible to border officials, they can electronically access your youth record during the 3 – 5 years which it remains open.
Can schools and employers view youth records?
Youth records can be accessed with your permission. The police may not provide any information about your youth record but employees and schools may request that you provide them with a criminal background check before you are hired or gain admission to the school.