A criminal record can haunt you for life, interfering with employment, finding a home, obtaining financing, and professional licencing. In addition, a criminal record can prevent travel abroad, especially to the United States. Canadian law permits a person to suspend a criminal record, removing your criminal conviction from public records after a specified number of years have passed from the completion of your sentence. The process is long and complex but not impossible.
If convicted before June 29, 2010, the waiting period is
- Five years for an offence prosecuted by indictment
- Three years for an offence prosecuted on summary conviction
If convicted between June 29, 2010, and March 12, 2012, the waiting period is
- Ten years for a serious personal offence, such as manslaughter
- Five years for any other offence prosecuted by indictment and classified as a Schedule 1 offence
- Three years for all other offences
If convicted on or after March 13, 2012, the waiting period is:
- Ten years for an offence prosecuted by indictment
- Five years for an offence prosecuted on summary conviction
Am I Eligible for a Pardon?
While the vast majority of people are eligible to have their criminal convictions pardoned, in certain circumstances, a person may be ineligible, depending on the nature, severity and number of convictions on their criminal record. Consult with Bulwark Law today to see if you are eligible for a criminal pardon.
What Is a Pardon?
A pardon is a formal record suspension that removes your criminal record from active databases that can be searched by police, prospective employers, banks and financial institutions, colleges and universities, and other government agencies and businesses. Once pardoned, a search of active criminal record databases will not reveal that your criminal conviction was suspended. Although your criminal conviction remains, the consequences of that criminal conviction can be minimized.
The process to obtain a pardon is complex and consists of nine steps, all of which require expertise, extensive record-gathering, and compelling storytelling.
- Get your criminal record: It can take up to 6 weeks to receive a copy of your criminal record from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or any local police station. To get your record, you must present two pieces of a valid government-issued photo ID, and you must submit your fingerprints electronically. Any convictions outside of Canada must also be submitted.
- Get your court records: You must gather all your court information, obtained through a Court Information Form, along with your criminal record. A formal court seal is required to complete the Court Information Form.
- Military Conduct Sheet: If you are a current or past member of the Canadian forces, you must get a certified, signed, and dated copy of your Military Conduct Sheet.
- Get a Police Check: A police check searches three databases to disclose any Canadian criminal record, vulnerable sector search, local police records, upcoming court dates or appearances, and Alberta Provincial court records. To get a Police Check, you must submit your criminal record along with two pieces of government-issued ID.
- Prove your identity: To prove who you are, you must provide a copy of a valid government-issued document that includes your name, date of birth, and signature.
- Schedule 1 Exception Form: only required if your conviction was for a Schedule 1 offence (generally those of a sexual nature or involving children), and your first offence was committed on or after March 13, 2012.
- Complete the Record Suspension Form: Valid for one year from signature, this form is the formal application for pardon, otherwise known as a record suspension.
- Define your measurable benefit: You must include a statement explaining how a record suspension would provide a measurable benefit and help you rehabilitate as a Canadian citizen. Later convictions after June 29, 2010, include the measurable benefit provision within the record suspension form.
- Pay the application fee and submit the application: The application fee is $50. The application will be processed within six months after submission, although an application for an offence prosecuted by indictment will be processed within 12 months of receipt.
What Effect Does a Pardon Have on Your Criminal Record?
The Canadian Police Information Centre is where criminal records are available to police and authorized government agencies. Federal and provincial agencies can access your criminal record through the Centre. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act does not allow your personal information to be given to all federal or provincial agencies, only specified ones, like Citizenship and Immigration of Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency, the Canada Border Services Agency, and the Military Police. Your criminal record is available to private individuals and institutions, such as employers, schools, colleges and universities, if you sign a criminal record release form.
Upon issuing a pardon, your criminal record no longer appears on the Canadian Police Information Centre database.
How Can a Pardons Lawyer Help You?
An experienced pardons lawyer can guide you through the complex process of locating all of the relevant files, completing the application, drafting a compelling statement of measurable benefit, and following the application process through determination.
Contact Bulwark Law Today
Your full return to civil society after serving a prison sentence can be significantly aided by securing a pardon after the applicable waiting period. That process is complex and requires strict compliance with the procedure. At Bulwark Law, our lawyers are knowledgeable, compassionate and skilled. Call 403 678 7360 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.