Everyone makes mistakes, and, if we’re lucky, we may be in a position to learn from our mistakes and improve ourselves and our lives because of it. But some mistakes we make have lasting consequences, meaning that when it’s time to move on and learn from those mistakes, it’s not as simple as thinking to yourself, “Well, I learned my lesson.”
This is especially true in cases where the mistake made was serious enough to be considered a crime, complete with an arrest, charges made, and conviction that had to be served, possibly with incarceration, fines, or both. When it comes to a mistake that has resulted in a criminal conviction, society isn’t so quick to “forgive and forget.” But that doesn’t mean that one mistake you made should necessarily have a negative effect on you for the rest of your life. This is especially true if you’ve learned from that mistake and genuinely want to change yourself and your conditions and make a positive contribution to society.
But if you’ve got a criminal conviction in your past you are, to some degree, starting “in the hole.” So how do you move up from here? Can you erase a criminal record in Canada? There is a way, but first, let’s look at the basics of the problem.
What’s In Your Criminal Record?
When you have a criminal record, there’s more than one part to it. In addition to an actual conviction with the crime you were found guilty of, the process of your arrest is also a part of that record. This means that even if you went to trial, and you were found not guilty of a crime, your arrest and fingerprints would still be present, and would come up as a “red flag” if someone were to conduct a background check.
In some instances, this means you would have to disclose certain types of information if you want to ensure 100% honesty. Some job applications, and even documents like immigration forms that need to be filled out to enter other countries like the USA, will ask if you have ever been charged or arrested. If you say “No,” on these forms and the people looking at the documents decide to conduct a background check, even if you have no conviction, the arrest will be present, and you can be legally barred from that job or entry into the country for providing false information.
The Solution: A Record Suspension
What was once known as a “Pardon” has now been changed to the more descriptive “Record Suspension,” but the function is still the same. If you get a Record Suspension, your criminal record is cleared. Any background check that is conducted by a member of the public will show that your record has no offences. If you have never had a background check conducted by the US Customs & Border Patrol (CBP), in the event that they conduct a check now, they too will also find a clear record.
This means that, for all intents and purposes, your criminal conviction didn’t exist. There are, however, a few notable exceptions. If you were convicted, for example, of a crime against a vulnerable sector, such as children, but eventually got a Record Suspension, then if you apply for most jobs or travel, that Record Suspension means you’re clear. However, if you apply for a job to work with that same vulnerable sector, in a daycare, for example, then that will still come up as a red flag in a background check.
When it comes to travel into America, if a background check was conducted before you got the Record Suspension, the American CBP will then transfer that information to their own database, and it will now be independent of Canadian records. This means that even if you do get a Record Suspension after the fact, the American database will still reflect that you have a criminal record, and can bar you entry, requiring another sort of document to overcome this.
We Can Help
In order to get a Record Suspension, you need a few things, the most important of which is time. Depending on the nature of the charge, you may require anywhere from 5-10 years after serving your sentence before you can apply for a Record Suspension. You will also need to be a member in good standing of society, with no other charges or arrests in that time.
If you’re interested in getting a Record Suspension, we can give you more information on how to set the wheels in motion. Every case is different, so we’ll need your specific circumstances to better understand what we can do to help you get your record cleared, and live your life with a clean slate. If your record was downloaded by the CBP and you were refused entry, we can help you acquire a US Entry Waiver.