New Rules for Pardons in Canada
New Changes to Length to Get a PardonIn order to remove your criminal record from a public record, you must first apply for a Record Suspension, or also known as a Pardon. In March of 2012, the eligibility requirements had changed for the waiting period for a summary offence from three years to five years which evidently affected the lives of many with a criminal record. This was a change made in the legislation by the Conservative government. However, with the new Liberal government, they are considering more changes to improve the lives of individuals with criminal offences. In this article, I will address the new rules to Pardons Canada and how this will affect individuals with criminal records.
Current LegislationIt is very important to consider all of the other eligibility requirements that individuals must have in order to receive a Record Suspension, not only the waiting period. For instance, the individual must have been convicted of an offence in Canada, under the Canadian federal act or regulation; they must not have received an absolute or conditional discharge for the offence; they must not have been convicted as a young offender for the offence; they must not have been convicted of a Schedule 1 offence as listed under the Criminal Records Act; they must not have been convicted of more than three offences that were prosecuted by indictment, each with a prison sentence of two years or more; they must have completed all of the sentences; and last but most important to this article, they must have completed the required waiting period, which starts only after they have completed all of the sentences. As of right now, individuals who have a summary offence are required to complete a five year waiting period from the end of their punishment and individuals who have an indictable offence are required to complete a ten year waiting period from the end of their punishment. These new longer waiting periods were as a result of the new legislation introduced in March of 2012 by the Conservative government. Pardons Canada found these new legislatives to be unfair and punitive. In addition to Pardons Canada, other advocates and organizations fought against these changes; however, they were unsuccessful as the changes went through regardless.
Prospect LegislationDue to the injustice of the elongated waiting periods, many individuals have been negatively affected. In April of 2017, the B.C. Supreme Court had announced and ruled that the implemented waiting periods violate an offenders’ charter of rights and freedoms if they were convicted of a summary or indictable offence before the new legislation was implemented in March of 2012. The new rules violate two subsections of the Charter of Rights, specifically pertaining to the offender not being punished twice for the same offence as well as having the benefit of the lesser punishment when rules and legislation changes while they are still in the criminal justice system. Therefore, theoretically, if an individual was convicted of a crime before 2012 and it was in fact a summary offence, then they should only have had to wait for three years for a pardon, instead of the five years. Furthermore, if an individual was convicted of a crime before 2012 and it was in fact an indictable offence, then they should only have had to wait for five years, instead of the ten years. Similar to the B.C. Supreme Court, the Ontario Supreme Court is expected to make a similar decision as well. The current legislation continues to be implemented as all individuals must apply under the new rule with the longer waiting periods, regardless of when the offences happened. Conclusively, the Parole Board of Canada is still undecided on how to legislate these changes and is still waiting for the government to come to an agreement. However, the Liberal government is hopeful and has stated that they are willing to re-consider the changes made by the Conservative government in 2012, especially with regards to the eligibility requirements for pardons and record suspensions. Though, no changes or action has been made yet.
How These Changes Affect IndividualsIt can be extremely devastating for any individual who was waiting for those three years after they have completed their sentences, in order to apply for a pardon, only to find out that the new legislation has increased the waiting period. Individuals who have had a criminal past and wish to be pardoned of their offences should have the option, legally, to proceed with the required three years if their offences happened before the legislation. As aforementioned, this violates the offenders’ charter of rights and freedoms and can be detrimental to their life and well-being. Criminal offences not only affect an individual’s lifestyle but it can also affect their career and any potential travel in the future. Therefore, it is essential that the Liberal government investigate further and try and find a solution for these individuals as it can benefit them and change their lives for the better.
Contact Akrami & AssociatesIf you have a criminal record and would like to pursue a Record Suspension, we can help you with this process. It is very important to find out whether you qualify for a Record Suspension and if you have met the minimum time period needed to apply for a Record Suspension. It is also very beneficial to be aware and keep updated with any new announcements the Liberal government discloses. Applying for a Record Suspension can be confusing if you are unfamiliar with how Immigration applications work. Moreover, any Immigration application can become overwhelming if done alone; therefore, it is highly recommended that you seek out professional and experienced help before attempting to apply. Here, at Akrami & Associates, we work and have experience with many different immigration issues. We have helped many of our clients receive Record Suspensions and are now free of their criminal past. If you believe that you might be eligible, please feel free to contact Akrami & Associates at our office at 416-477-2545 for more information or if you would like to book a consultation with an immigration professional for more advise. With Akrami & Associates, there is always a way!
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