Getting arrested and convicted of a criminal offence can have long standing consequences in Canada. It can mean the difference between being offered a job because you are qualified and getting passed over because someone else has the same qualifications, but a clean record. It can mean you are able to adopt a child or are refused because you are a possible negative influence. It can even mean the difference between getting on a plane to go on vacation in California and being barred from boarding because the Customs & Border Patrol conducted a background check and found your conviction.
But a criminal or police record doesn’t have to be a permanent “stain” on your choices and opportunities. There are things you can do to limit the negative impact a police record can have on your life.
The Record Suspension Option
Your police record is accessible to anyone; it is a matter of public record. If a potential employer or even an organization you wish to volunteer with has a background check policy, they only need to be willing to pay a fee and use your ID details to run that check. Only the police record information will be available for them to view, nothing else. If it is a law enforcement organization, such as a police department in Canada, or even the CBP at the American border or an international airport, these groups have automatic access to this information if they decide to run a check on your identification.
If, however, you apply for and get a record suspension, your police record is “sealed” against this type of background check. Record suspensions used to be known as pardons, but the terminology changed to more properly reflect the actual administrative activity that was being carried out. Under ordinary circumstances, once your police record has been sealed by a record suspension, no one will see anything if they conduct a standard background check.
This doesn’t mean your police record has been deleted or erased; only that normal background checks will not see it. Under very rare, very extraordinary circumstances, an authority like the Minister of Public Safety can order a police record to be unsealed for viewing. And if you commit another criminal act, and are convicted of it, your previous record suspension may be revoked, and all your past convictions will be reinstated on your police record, in addition to the new one.
Making The Grade
Getting a record suspension on a police record can be a lengthy, complex process. There are many requirements, documents, references and even waiting periods that are all part of getting this cleared. You must have completed your sentence, paid your fines, gone through probation, and lived without police incident for a certain number of years before you can apply. Summary convictions require a five-year waiting period, while indictable offences require ten years.
On the other hand, you may have been arrested, but there was a not guilty verdict, or the case was dismissed. In these instances, while you may not have a criminal record that requires a record suspension, the details of the arrest, fingerprinting and charges will still be present and require a file destruction, as these can also be viewed in a background check.
The successful application of police records for either a pardon / record suspension or file destruction is what we do. If you want help to ensure your application is smooth and trouble free, come to Pardons Canada. We can help you.