While we usually hope for the best in life for ourselves, our family and friends, sometimes mistakes are made. If we’re lucky, these mistakes are relatively minor errors that teach us important life lessons and allow us to move on as better people.
But sometimes the mistakes can be more costly and follow us for the rest of our lives. This is often what happens when a Canadian adult is arrested and convicted of a crime. Aside from the obvious punishment of a jail sentence, even once that punishment has been carried out and served, things still aren’t over. Someone convicted of a crime may be freed from incarceration to rejoin society, but resuming a normal life can be challenging due to a criminal record.
Why a Criminal Record Matters
Having a criminal record means having a permanent piece of data about you that is publicly accessible to anyone that does a record check with the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). Your criminal record is not confidential. Anyone willing to conduct a record check can legally obtain this information about you. In fact, some jobs require a criminal record check be conducted for anyone applying for that position.
This can have a big effect on your career prospects, but it can also affect your ability to travel. While you are legally entitled to travel freely within Canada to any province, you no longer have the same guarantee when traveling to other countries. The United States, for example, allows its Customs & Border Patrol staff to have access to the CPIC records. If they decide to run a criminal record check on you, they can bar entry to the US based on this.
For some jobs, having a criminal record is not a legal barrier for entry, and generous individuals or companies may still hire you just to give you a chance. For many, however, while it may not be illegal to hire someone with a criminal record, there is nothing illegal about having a corporate policy that refuses to hire someone based on having a criminal record.
For some jobs, it is illegal to hire someone with a criminal record, depending on the type of record. Teaching children for example, is considered a “vulnerable sector” due to the comparable defencelessness of children. If you have been convicted of a sexual offence, it is illegal for you to work in this area.
In some cases, criminal record checks may be instituted even for activities such as volunteer work. You may be refused the chance to participate in volunteer activities based on the presence of a criminal record, especially if that volunteer work also involves vulnerable sectors, such as the elderly, or children where, again, they may be legally required to refuse you depending on the nature of the offence.
There Is Hope
While a criminal record is accessible to anyone that wishes to do a background check, that doesn’t mean that you are forever barred from equal opportunities in your life. It is possible to get a Record Suspension—formerly known as a “Pardon”—that removes your criminal record.
If you qualify for a Record Suspension, any normal check of your records for a criminal conviction will come up empty. However, for sexual offences that are being checked for a vulnerable sectors job or volunteer position, this will still be flagged for a record check.
What to Do
Depending on the nature of the offence, you must have completed serving your sentence and then integrated back into society for a certain period of time, depending on the conviction. Once you’ve cleared the required time, you can start the process to apply for a Record Suspension.
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that this is not a right, but a privilege, and in the event that you are convicted of another crime, your privileges may be revoked.
If you are at the point where you want to have the same professional opportunities as other Canadians, and you are ready to make a clean break with your past, then a Record Suspension is necessary. Contact us today to learn more and help get the process started.