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How to apply for pardons

January 31, 2024
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Andrew Tanenbaum
Pardons Canada

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Applying for a pardon, officially known as a record suspension, in Canada is a legal process that allows individuals who have completed their criminal sentence to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records. This article provides a legal perspective on the process, requirements, and implications of applying for a pardon or record suspension in Canada.

How to apply for pardons

Understanding Record Suspension

A record suspension allows individuals who were convicted of a criminal offence but have completed their sentence and demonstrated law-abiding behavior for a prescribed period, to have their criminal record suspended. This does not erase the conviction but makes it inaccessible to standard criminal record checks. This process is governed by the Parole Board of Canada under the Criminal Records Act (CRA).

Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility for a record suspension is contingent on several factors:

  1. Completion of Sentence: All sentences, including imprisonment, fines, probation, and parole, must be fully completed.
  2. Waiting Period: Applicants must have completed a specific waiting period after their sentence. This period is five years for summary offences and ten years for indictable offences.
  3. Conduct: The applicant must have demonstrated responsible and law-abiding behavior during the waiting period.

Ineligibility Factors

Certain convictions make an individual ineligible for a record suspension, such as:

  • Sexual offences against minors (with certain exceptions under specific conditions).
  • More than three offences prosecuted by indictment, each with a prison sentence of two years or more.

Application Process

The application process for a record suspension involves several steps:

  1. Gather Documentation: Obtain a copy of your criminal record from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Collect court documents and other relevant records related to your conviction and sentence.
  2. Complete the Application: Fill out the application form available from the Parole Board of Canada. Ensure accuracy and completeness to avoid delays.
  3. Pay the Application Fee: As of 2023, the application fee for a record suspension is $644.88. This fee is non-refundable and subject to change.
  4. Submit the Application: Forward the completed application along with all supporting documents and the application fee to the Parole Board of Canada.
  5. Assessment by the Parole Board: The Board assesses the application to determine whether granting a record suspension would provide a measurable benefit to the applicant, be consistent with the protection of society, and not bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

Legal Considerations

  • Impact on Employment and Travel: While a record suspension can aid in securing employment or traveling, it does not guarantee entry into other countries, as border officials may have access to past criminal records despite a suspension.
  • Revocation or Cessation: A record suspension can be revoked or cease to be in effect if the individual is convicted of a new crime, found to be no longer of good conduct, or if it was obtained through false or deceptive means.
  • Effect on Record: A record suspension does not erase the conviction. Certain agencies, like Canadian police forces and the Canadian Border Services Agency, may still access these records under specific circumstances.

Applying for a pardon or record suspension in Canada is a complex legal process requiring thorough preparation and understanding of the legal framework. It represents an opportunity for individuals with a criminal past to mitigate the long-term consequences of their actions, fostering rehabilitation and reintegration into society. However, the application process is stringent, reflecting the balance between individual rehabilitation and societal safety. Legal advice or assistance from a professional with expertise in Canadian criminal law can be invaluable in navigating this process.

You may consider using Pardons Canada (pardons.org) to assist in the pardon, file destruction and US waiver application process. Pardons Canada (pardons.org) has been helping Canadians for over 35 years and has an expert staff of over 25 employees at their head office to gather and prepare all of the necessary documentation for the application process.  You can speak to any counselor at 1877-929-6011 extension 1 and they would be happy to provide a free consultation on your specific case.

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