One of the biggest negative legacies people can create for themselves is the presence of a criminal record. When you have a criminal record in Canada, it can severely limit both your professional and even travel options. Employers have the legal right to reject an applicant if past criminal charges come up in a background check. Even crossing the border to the United States can be denied if a background check discovers the presence of a criminal record, and it doesn’t matter if it occurred when you were younger; it’s criminal, that’s grounds for refusal.
So while it’s obvious that having a criminal record with charges on it can have long-lasting, bad consequences on a life, it does raise another question. What exactly constitutes a criminal offence in Canada? Everyone familiar with watching any kind of police procedural or detective drama will know about obvious offences, like murder, but what else falls into this category? Let’s take a closer look.
Two Key Components of Criminal Offences
First, before we get into actual categories, let’s look at how a criminal offence is determined in Canada. At its most basic, a criminal offence is made up of two parts, known by their Latin and legal terms as “actus reus” and “mens rea.” This means “guilty act” and “guilty mind.” In other words, when someone is arrested and charged with a criminal offence, that charge will then turn into a full-blown prosecution and conviction if it can be proven in court that an act was a violation of criminal law. It must also be proven that the person who committed the act was in a “criminal” state of mind at the time.
However, in this situation, it’s important to note that while a guilty act is a pretty straightforward interpretation of a violation of permissible actions, “guilty mind” is not as malicious as it may sound. For example, drunk driving or a DUI is considered a criminal offence in Canada, but that does not mean that the driver was deliberately thinking of getting into an accident or endangering others on the road with poor driving. In this case, it simply means the driver was aware there was a possibility he or she was drunk but chose to ignore the fact that drunk driving is illegal, and took a chance on getting home safely and not being pulled over by the police and subjected to a breathalyzer test.
Categories Of Crimes
As we’ve seen above, drunk driving or DUI is considered a criminal act. However, getting a speeding ticket, or being fined for loitering is not. There are different areas where acts are considered criminal. Acts involving deliberate violence, such as assault, are criminal acts. Activities with unauthorized weapons are also considered offences, such as the possession of firearms with automatic firing capability. And of course, any form of theft or possession of stolen goods is criminal.
But other acts that do not involve theft or violence and are still considered criminal offences. Deceptive financial practices, such as committing fraud or bribery are considered criminal acts. So are actions that go against the police and the courts, such as disobeying a court order, or lying under oath or breach of probation. Then there are activities such as controlled substance use, drug trafficking or cultivation.
Don’t Let It Leave A Mark
Once a criminal conviction is handed down, it becomes a matter of public record. Anyone can access it and view it in a background check if they have your name and are willing to pay the fee for that check. A record suspension or pardon, however, can clear your name. Ask us how we can do this for you at Pardons Canada.