Being sentenced with a criminal conviction in Canada has inevitable, serious repercussions on the rest of a person’s life. There is often a jail sentence involved, sometimes even significant fines to pay, and even after a sentence is served, there may be probationary requirements to meet. Even after all that, once your legal commitments have been met, one thing remains, and that’s your criminal record.
Your criminal record is considered public information. While that doesn’t mean that access to your criminal record is free and easy to get, it does mean that anyone that is willing to pay the fees can connect to the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) to run a background check for the presence of criminal convictions and arrests. If you have any, they will come up in this check.
For many people, this stain in the past can have consequences in the present. A criminal record can be a decisive factor in an employer’s choice to hire someone. The presence of a criminal record may also legally bar someone from traveling to other countries like the USA if the border patrol chooses to conduct a background check and finds a conviction present.
Is The Criminal Reocrd Permanent?
Once a person receives a criminal conviction, it is, in theory, going to remain a matter of public record for everyone to see. However, this is only true as long as the holder of the criminal record takes no further action and simply accepts the criminal record for what it is. But, if a person decides that they would like their criminal conviction removed from future background checks, there is a solution. It’s possible to apply for a pardon—more currently known as a record suspension—in Canada.
When a pardon or record suspension is granted, the information of a person’s criminal conviction is removed from the CPIC. This does not mean that a record of a criminal conviction no longer exists, but, for the purposes of the general population conducting their own background check, nothing will come up. This also includes the customs and border patrol for the United States, assuming they’ve never run a criminal background check on you previously.
The Proper Time
To apply for a pardon in Canada is not a quick process. There are different timelines surrounding when a person may do this, and the single biggest determining factor is the severity of a crime. For instance, if you were never actually convicted of a crime, that is, you went to court, but were acquitted, or the charges were withdrawn or dismissed, then there is a five month waiting period. Once the five months have elapsed, you can take the steps necessary to remove your arrest, fingerprinting and subsequent record of your trial and its result from your record.
On the other hand, if you’ve been convicted of a crime, then depending on the result, you may need to wait either one year, or several years before you can apply for a pardon in Canada.
Discharges, which mean that you were convicted of an offence but there was no punishment or sentence levied, mean you still have a complete criminal record in your background. However, if it has been found that the offence wasn’t severe enough to merit carrying out a sentence and you were given an absolute or conditional discharge, then there’s a waiting period of 1-3 years before you can set the wheels in motion for a file destruction.
If, on the other hand, your conviction went through, and you served time or were given probation or a fine payment, then you will have to complete your sentence, as well as any probationary periods before the “clock” starts on applying for a record suspension. In these cases, once all sentences and probations are served, then you must be a law abiding citizen with no further convictions for between 5-10 years under the current government policy.
We Know What To Do
Pardons Canada can help you if you’d like to apply for a pardon in Canada, or secure an entry waiver to the United States. Check our timeline for specific pardon/record suspension details to see how far along you are in your progress. If you’re ready to start looking into the next steps to take, we’re here for you. Contact us and let us help to put you on the path to a record suspension.