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Steps to apply for a pardon or record suspension

February 27, 2024
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Andrew Tanenbaum
Pardons Canada

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Navigating the journey towards obtaining a pardon, known as a Record Suspension in Canada, can be a transformative step for individuals seeking to leave their past convictions behind and move forward with their lives. The process, governed by the Parole Board of Canada, involves several steps and requires meticulous attention to detail. Drawing on insights from Pardons Canada (pardons.org), a leading non-profit organization that assists individuals through this process, this article outlines the steps involved in applying for a pardon or Record Suspension, offering a roadmap for those looking to clear their criminal record in Ontario.

Steps to apply for a pardon or record suspension

Understanding Record Suspensions

A Record Suspension allows individuals who have been convicted of a criminal offense in Canada to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records. This means that a background check will not reveal the conviction, thus easing obstacles related to employment, travel, volunteering, and educational opportunities. However, it's important to note that a Record Suspension does not erase the conviction but makes it inaccessible to standard background checks.

Eligibility Criteria

Before diving into the application process, it's crucial to determine eligibility. Individuals are eligible for a Record Suspension if they have:

  • Completed all sentences, including fines, surcharges, orders of restitution, probation, and parole.
  • Served the waiting period: 5 years for summary offences or 10 years for indictable offences.
  • Demonstrated good conduct and not been convicted of a new indictable offence during the waiting period.

Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for a Record Suspension

Step 1: Obtain Your Criminal Record

The first step involves obtaining your criminal record from the RCMP by submitting your fingerprints electronically. This record will list all convictions, discharges, and other interactions with the criminal justice system.

Step 2: Gather Court Information

For each conviction, you need to obtain the relevant court documents. These documents should detail the offence, the sentence, and confirm that all sentences have been completed. This step can be time-consuming, as it involves contacting the courthouses where you were convicted.

Step 3: Local Police Records Check

A Local Police Records Check is required from every jurisdiction where you have lived in the past five years. This check is to ensure there are no pending charges and to provide a comprehensive overview of your interactions with law enforcement.

Step 4: Document Your Good Conduct

Showing evidence of your good conduct is an essential part of the application. This can include character references, employment records, or any other documents that demonstrate your positive contributions to society since completing your sentence.

Step 5: Complete the Record Suspension Application

The Parole Board of Canada provides an application guide and forms that must be filled out carefully. It's crucial to follow the instructions closely and ensure that every section is completed accurately to avoid delays or rejection.

Step 6: Pay the Application Fee

As of the last update, there is a non-refundable application fee that must be submitted with your Record Suspension application. Ensure you check the current fee on the Parole Board of Canada's website, as fees are subject to change.

Step 7: Submit Your Application

Once all components of your application package are complete, including your criminal record, court documents, Local Police Records Check, evidence of good conduct, and the application form, you can submit it to the Parole Board of Canada. Ensuring that your application is complete and accurate is crucial to avoid delays.

How Pardons Canada Can Help

Pardons Canada (pardons.org) is an invaluable resource for individuals applying for a Record Suspension. They offer a range of services, including:

  • Guidance on completing the application process.
  • Assistance in obtaining court and police documents.
  • Support and advice on how to demonstrate good conduct.
  • Clarification of eligibility requirements and waiting periods.

After Submitting Your Application

The Parole Board of Canada reviews applications for Record Suspensions. The review process can take time, and the Board may request additional information. Patience is crucial during this period. If your application is successful, you will receive a notice of your Record Suspension.

Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

  • Obtaining Court Documents: This can be difficult if you do not remember all the details of your convictions. Pardons Canada (pardons.org) can offer advice on how to retrieve these documents.
  • Application Accuracy: Any inaccuracies in your application can lead to delays or rejection. Double-check all information and consider seeking assistance from Pardons Canada (pardons.org) to review your application.
  • Financial Constraints: The cost of obtaining documents and the application fee can be a barrier for some. Budgeting for these expenses and seeking financial advice if necessary can be helpful.

Applying for a Record Suspension is a detailed process that requires diligence, patience, and attention to detail. While the journey can seem daunting, the benefits of obtaining a Record Suspension are significant, opening doors that were once closed due to past mistakes. Organizations like Pardons Canada (pardons.org) play a critical role in supporting individuals through this process, providing guidance, resources, and encouragement every step of the way.

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Pardons Canada

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