A Pardon / Record Suspension allows people who were convicted of a criminal offence, but have completed their sentence and demonstrated they are law-abiding citizens, to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records. Pardons / Record Suspensions are issued by the federal government of Canada. This means that any search of the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) will not show that you had a criminal record, or that you were issued a Pardon / Record Suspension.
Pardons / Record Suspensions Eligibility Timeline
Depending on your charge, you need to wait the following time period until you are eligible for a Pardon/Record Suspension or Destruction. (Note: the application process, both preparation and submission, takes time; it is best to start well in advance of your eligibility date):
5 months: Withdrawn, Dismissed or Acquitted Charges
1 year: Absolute Discharges, Stayed Charges and most Peace Bonds
3 years: Conditional Discharges
5 years: Summary Convictions
10 years: Indictable Convictions
Ineligible: Sexual convictions to a minor; if individual has 4 or more indictable convictions, each of which 2 years or more of jail time was served.
If a withdrawn, acquitted, dismissed, stayed or peace bond charge happened years ago, the file may be destroyed right away.
For convictions, waiting periods begin to run once the sentence imposed by the court is satisfied (ie: jail time served; fines paid). For all other outcomes, the waiting period begins from the court date.
Withdrawn: The charges were withdrawn in court and it did not go to trial. Usually, the person shows up at court and the prosecutor or the ‘Crown’ (Queen’s lawyer) asks that the charge be withdrawn (thrown out).
Acquittal: The individual has been proven innocent of an offence.
Dismissed: The case has been closed or thrown out because there is not enough information to continue with formal proceedings.
Stayed: Where there is not enough evidence to immediately withdraw the charges but evidence may arise in the near future. Although the offender is found not guilty, their file is not 100% closed for one year.
Peace Bond: The charges were withdrawn in court and it did not go to trial. A peace bond means that the court ordered the person to be of good conduct and usually imposed conditions, such as the client must stay away from the person they were harassing. Peace bonds are often ordered in domestic or harassment situations.
Absolute Discharge: In this case the person went to court and was not convicted. They were found guilty by the judge but no punishment was ordered.
Conditional Discharge: In this case the person went to court and was not convicted. They were found guilty by the judge and a punishment was ordered (often probation, community service or a fine).
Convictions: A conviction means that the person went to court, was found guilty and was convicted.
Personal Injury: A personal injury offence is one that falls under Section 752 of the Canadian Criminal Code.