Want to know how to get a pardon in Ontario, then keep reading…
We have all made mistakes. Unfortunately, when it comes to a criminal record a small mistake can still cause you a lifetime of problems even if you are well established and past the crime you committed.
Canadians have criminal records for all sorts of reasons that may not reflect a bad character or even current issues—they may have been forgiven for their crimes, paid their dues, and were never even a real threat to society. But the issues convicts face in the future as a result of even minor offences can be particularly stressful, humiliating and painful.
The consequences of a crime committed in Ontario can haunt you for a long time if not forever. The good news is that Pardons Canada can help you sort out the difficulties that stem from having a criminal record. We can help to set you free of stigma and judgement so you can live a normal life free of any obstacles due to having a criminal record.
What Is a Pardon or Record Suspension?
As of March 2012, the federal government decided to start using the term “Record Suspension” in place of “pardon.” Since then, the two terms tend to be used interchangeably. A record suspension or pardon sets a person free from the restraints of a criminal record and allows them to lead a regular free life with rights equal to the rest of (non-criminal) society.
If you have a Record Suspension in Ontario, this means that you don’t have to worry about previous offences showing up publicly on criminal record checks in Canada. Once you have a pardon in Canada, you’ll have far more freedom to live your life as you need, and you won’t have to worry about unfair judgement from friends, family, or even potential employers and landlords.
Those who have once been convicted of a criminal offence and gone through the justice process, have proven themselves to be rehabilitated and healed from any prior problems, have contributed to society, and have a generally good standing can have their records suspended and placed on private rather than public record. Note that a suspension does not mean that the entire record is erased—it is simply just not accessible to the public. Keep reading to learn the details and how to get a pardon in Ontario
What Are the More Immediate Consequences of Committing a Crime in Ontario?
Once you’ve committed a crime in the province of Ontario, your offences will go on record for the duration of your life, even if you are not convicted. The RCMP has a central database where all of your information will be kept and made public unless you become eligible for a Record Suspension, which will typically take several years after the crime is committed depending on the offence.
If you go to court and are found not guilty, you may still maintain a criminal record. If this happens, you’ll need to take the appropriate steps to have all of the information destroyed. On the other hand, if you were found guilty, you will need to apply for a pardon or Record Suspension. A suspension can only occur after you’ve paid all fines and penalties and have had successful rehabilitation. For small offences, the waiting time for a pardon in Ontario is five years; for more serious crimes, you must wait ten years before applying for a pardon.
What Does a Criminal Record Prevent You from Over Time?
Criminal records can affect important parts of your life for years to come and may haunt you forever if you don’t do something about them when you can.
The following are just a few of many ways that your life can be negatively affected by a criminal record:
- You may face problems acquiring volunteer or internship opportunities
- You can have difficulty getting a job
- You may have trouble getting a promotion
- Your immigration status may be compromised
- You may struggle to find housing
- You may be denied entry at the US border
One of the worst ways having a criminal record can affect your life is it can cause a severe impediment when it comes to getting jobs or even getting promoted. The possibility of roadblocks is especially true in some industries more than others – for instance, the finance or security sectors as well as social services, nursing, personal support work and many others.
Sometimes employers are very thorough about criminal record checks and will not hire you even if it was a minor offence or if the offence was way in the past. With a criminal history in the province of Ontario or anywhere else in Canada, your record will always be publicly visible until you are granted a pardon. It is accessible even when you have had the charges against you dropped, withdrawn, dismissed, stayed, or discharged.
Aside from full-time or part-time paid positions, you may even face challenges acquiring unpaid experiences such as volunteer jobs and internships.
Though it may appear to negate the rights of renters, and policies may vary between provinces, landlords may ask for criminal record checks when they are considering new tenants. So even if you have an old criminal record with a small offence, you may be refused housing based on this aspect of your application alone.
With a criminal record, you will have trouble when you attempt to cross the border into other countries, and you may even be restricted entirely from entering depending on your individual case and the nature of the crime committed.
It is strongly advised to not even attempt entering the United States as they will not let you in if you have a criminal record. Even if you do have a pardon, the U.S. border agents may see you as a criminal if you have already been stopped at the US border. If you do not have a waiver that allows you to travel to the U.S. freely, you will likely be fined or detained at the border.
It’s important to note that even when you do have a record suspension or pardon in Canada, this doesn’t mean that you can travel freely. This restriction exists even when a person’s record is not on public record in Canada because it is still contained in other databases such as the ones used by the U.S. federal government and border officials especially if you’ve already been flagged at the US border.
About Record Suspensions
Record Suspensions or Pardons are available to help people who are currently in good standing escape the scrutiny they face with a criminal record. Despite a few exceptions to the rule—that is, some crimes such as child sexual abuse are too severe to be granted a record suspension—other charges like drunk driving, DUI, Impaired Driving or petty theft are typically considered only when the person in question has demonstrated that they are genuinely healed from the situation and are in good standing.
People with certain violations that are clearly non-violent but still have strong penalties should consider applying for a pardon. Examples of these types of crimes are trespassing, drunk driving, petty theft, and unlicensed possession of firearms, fraud, assault, mischief, DUI, breach of probation, to name a few.
To qualify for a pardon, evidence of full jail time served and parole passed without any problems is required. Then there must be evidence that you completed the waiting period after all sentences and paid your fines.
How to Get a Pardon in Ontario
The system of governing pardons in Ontario can be time-consuming and requires a significant amount of paperwork. It might involve hiring a lawyer, having other professionals to assist you, facilitating communication between various legal bodies, getting criminal history files destroyed, and getting a U.S. Entry Waiver.
One of the toughest things about getting a pardon via the Canadian government is just having everything that you need in clear order ahead of time and knowing when to follow through with each step. You will need clear evidence of each stage of your conviction, and you will need to obtain these from various legal bodies. The wait for a pardon can be lengthy, and will probably take about a year to process.
As far as cases in Ontario go, your records will be sealed, and you will have opportunities to reintegrate yourself into society. The Minister of Public Safety can access your records and authorities will determine if it is safe for you to be about in public after your sentence and fines are paid off.
How Long Does It Take to Have a Record Suspended in Ontario?
In a general sense, you can expect to wait quite a while to have your criminal record cleared and your pardon approved; this is the case even after all you complete all the paperwork.
Why does it take so long? The truth is that the information has to go through so many different administrative bodies and finally through the Parole Board of Canada. There are also many documents involved, and administrators could ask for additional ones along the way.
For this reason, even if you are not yet eligible for a record suspension, but should be eligible in approximately a year, we recommend that you start preparing for the process as early as possible.
Are You Eligible For a Record Suspension?
There were specific rules before 2012 that would have made you eligible for a record suspension. Today you are NOT eligible if:
- You have committed an offence that falls under Schedule 1 (a child sexual offence)
- You have more than three offences prosecuted with prison sentences of two or more years
To even apply for a pardon in Ontario, you must meet certain conditions. You must have completed your sentence including all fines and penalties. You must have completed all obligatory parts of your sentencing including parole, probation and release, and you must have met the required wait times, which is five or ten years, depending on the crime committed. Finally, you must have shown generally good conduct, having a clear record since the one up for consideration.
You may also be eligible for a Record Suspension in Ontario even if you don’t have a Canadian passport, are not a citizen or resident of Canada, or if your conviction was initially in your country of origin. For more details about eligibility or to find out more about how to get a pardon in Ontario, contact Pardons Canada.
Make Sure the Pardon Process Is Done Right
Your pardon application must be completed correctly to ensure that it is approved. To avoid any confusion or missteps, get the help of professionals who have experience with amnesties and are familiar with the policies and laws of Ontario or other specific provinces. This somewhat delicate legal process is not one that you want to risk making mistakes.
Qualified professionals will have a clear understanding of not only the federal legal system but also of areas where provincial and federal laws could conflict and cause problems with the processing of your pardon application. Furthermore, professionals will understand more about the changing nature of laws and policies on both the federal and provincial levels.
If you want to find out more about getting pardoned in Ontario? Pardons Canada is committed to helping people who have previously committed crimes attain the freedom and rights that are required to help them live a normal life. We have been guiding people through this process for over 25 years.
We’re here to assist you in obtaining a record suspension, accomplishing every stage of the application process correctly, and ensuring that all of the necessary administrative bodies have the right information.
If you have a criminal record and you’re looking for more information on how to get a pardon in Ontario, Pardons Canada is happy to help you through the pardons process and make sure that everything is completed correctly. Contact us today for more information.