Pardoned of an Offence
If you currently live in Canada and certain unfortunate circumstances happened where you now have a criminal record, thankfully there is still a chance for you to get pardoned. This pardon is usually referred to as a record suspension. In this article, I will explain what a record suspension is, who is eligible for this suspension, limitations, certain scenarios thatwould fall under a record suspension, and further information.
What is a Record Suspension
A record suspension allows individuals who were convicted of a criminal offence, but have completed their designated sentence and demonstrated that they are in fact law-abiding citizens for a prescribed number of years, to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records.
So, you may ask how can this be possible or what exactly does a record suspension do? The criminal offence that was committed or the individual’s criminal record is entirely removed from the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database. In other words, a search of CPIC will not show that the individual has a criminal record or a record suspension. This is essential for the individual to obtain andaccess employment and educational opportunities. This also helps them reintegrate into society as a law abiding citizen.
The Criminal Records Act (CRA) applies only to records kept by federal organizations; however, most provincial and municipal criminal justice agencies also restrict access to their records one they are told that a record suspension has been ordered.
Who is Eligible for a Record Suspension
Similar to any other immigration application, a record suspension also has eligibility requirements that you must meet before you can apply. This includes a waiting period.
In order to be eligible for a record suspension, you must have:
- Been convicted of an offence(s) in Canada, undera Canadian federal act or regulation (e.g. the Criminal Code).
- Did not receive an absolute or conditional discharge for your offence(s).
- Not convicted as a young offender for your offence(s).
- Not convicted of a Schedule 1 offence as listed under the Criminal Records Act (sexual offence involving a child).
- Not convicted of more than three (4 or more) offences that were prosecuted by indictment, each with a prison sentence of two (2) years or more.
- Have completed all of your sentences, which include:
– All fines, surcharges, costs, restitution and compensation orders,
– All sentences of imprisonment, or conditional sentence order,
– Any probation order(s).
- Have completed the required waiting period, which starts after you have completed all of your sentences. Specifically:
– the waiting period is 5 years for a summary offence and 10 years for an indictable offence
Please note, if you cannot say yes to all of the above criteria, then you are not eligible for a record suspension.
Circumstances that do not need a Record Suspension
It is also beneficial to know that if you were found guilty of an offence as a young offender in a youth court or youth justice court, yourrecord will be destroyed or archived once all applicable time periods have elapsed under the Young Offenders Act or the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Additionally, if you have received an absolute discharge for the offence you committedon or after July 24, 1992, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) will automatically remove it from its system one year afterthe court decision. Similarly, if you received a conditional discharge for the offence on or after July 24, 1992, the RCMP will automatically remove it 3 years after the court decision.
Who Authorizes Record Suspensions
Under the CRA, the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) is the official and only federal agency responsible for ordering, denying and revoking record suspensions for convictions under federal acts or regulations of Canada.
What are the Limits of a Record Suspension
It is important to note that there are certain limitations to a record suspension. The limitations of a record suspension are:
- A record suspension does not erase a convicted offence, but it sets it aside,
- A record suspension does not guarantee entry or visa privileges to another country,
- Suspended records of former sexual offenders are flagged in CPIC. This is done so that should the individual apply to work or volunteer with a vulnerable sector group, such as children or the elderly, a vulnerable sector check will be needed and will identify that the individual was convicted of a sexual offencefor which a record suspension was received.
A record suspension is not indefinite. Therefore, if any of the following circumstances happen, then the record suspension can be revoked or can cease to have effect.
If you are:
- Convicted of a new indictable offence, or in some cases, a summary offence,
- Found to no longer be of good conduct,
- Found to have made a false or misleading statement, or hidden information when you applied,
- Found to have been ineligible for a record suspension at the time the record suspension was ordered.
If you have any of these scenarios occur, then a record suspension is revoked or ceases to have effect. At that point, the record of the offence(s) are added back into the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database.
Examples of Record Suspension Scenarios
The following will be questions you may ask with regards to eligibility and applying for record suspensions. I have included these here in orderfor you to better understand how record suspensions function and to resolve any confusion that you may have.
- What if I make a mistake on my application and forget a conviction that was given to me in conjunction with my existing convictions?
In circumstances that you have an accidental error on your application, the pardon or record suspension may be revoked. For instance, if you did not realize that a conviction was missing from the RCMP record, it could have been omitted from the record suspension application for which a record suspension would then be granted. If this occurs, it is important to investigate further to see if you can amend the application before a decision is made. If you have already paid for the fine or have completed the waiting period after the sentence, you may still be eligible for pardon. If not, then you will have to start over again and reapply once you have met the requirements.
- If I abide by all of the requirements toobtain a record suspension, am I guaranteed to get it?
Even if you abide by all of the requirements to obtain a record suspension and prove to immigration that you are a law-abiding citizen, unfortunately, your application can still be denied. It is entirely up to PBC to determine a record suspension. The board will let you know of their decision in writing. Furthermore, you may reapply for a record suspension one year from the date of the decision.
Contact Akrami & Associates
If you are interested in getting the process started and feel as though you are eligible to be pardoned, Akrami & Associates would be more than happy to help you. We are a group of highly skilled professionals that have had experience with these specific cases. Feel free to contact our office at 416-477-2545 for more information or if you want to book a consultation with an immigration professional for more advice. With Akrami& Associates, there is always a way!