Record Suspensions (formerly called “Pardons”)
I believe in second chances and I very firmly believe that a past event or mistake should not be held against someone for the rest of their lives. Having a criminal record can affect earning potential, the ability to travel, eliminate the rewards of community volunteering, and can carry social stigma. If you or someone you know has a criminal record, I may be able to assist with the record suspension application to the Parole Board of Canada.
What is a “Record Suspension” ?
A record suspension allows those who were convicted of a criminal offence to have their record kept separate and apart from other criminal records. In order to qualify for a record suspension, one must have completed their entire sentence (including paying any fines and completing probation) and be a law-abiding citizen for a prescribed number of years.
A record suspension removes a person’s criminal record from the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database. This means that a search of CPIC will not show that the individual has a criminal record or a record suspension
Why is this process no longer called a “Pardon” ?
It is unclear why the Parole Board of Canada changed the terminology from obtaining a “pardon” to getting a record suspension. Perhaps it is because the word “pardon” means to forgive or absolve, while a record suspension keeps a past record separate and apart, it does not completely erase the fact that the record ever existed. Furthermore, a record suspension can be revoked in certain situations such as being convicted of a new criminal offence after receiving a record suspension.
It is important to note that you DO NOT need a lawyer or a paralegal to complete a record suspension application for you. Having a legal professional complete the application does not give your application priority over others and will not accelerate the process. It will also not guarantee you a record suspension or convey a special status on your application. You can absolutely apply for a record suspension on your own. Unfortunately, there is false and misleading information on the internet so if you are going to apply on your own be sure to visit the official Parole Board of Canada site:
Here you can find all the forms you will require, useful tips, and even a video tutorial to assist you.
Why choose a legal professional to help complete the application?
Even though one can complete a record suspension application on their own, there are advantages to hiring a reputable legal professional to help you complete the application. Many of my record suspension clients find it difficult to stay on track with their application. They start obtaining all the documents they need but then either procrastinate with completion of the application or life just generally gets in the way. I’ve had people come see me years after they started the process on their own because they have just never found the time to finish it. I’ve also had some clients that have had their application returned because they are missing information or have obtained the wrong information. Some people find completing the measurable benefit/sustained rehabilitation form challenging and perhaps feel that they don’t have the writing skills to complete this form. I will follow up with you every two to four weeks to make sure you are staying on track and completing the steps that I cannot complete for you (such as getting electronic fingerprinting done to request your RCMP record). I will conduct a thorough interview with you in order to complete your measurable benefit/sustained rehabilitation form for you and also complete the record suspension application form. I will then check and re-check your application to make sure it is full and compete before finally sending it off to the Parole Board of Canada by courier. If, after reviewing your complete RCMP record and your court information, I determine that you are not eligible for a record suspension, you will not be charged my full fee but rather only pay for the work I have completed to that point.
What are the criteria to qualify for a record suspension?
To see the eligibility criteria follow this link:
You are not eligible to apply for a record suspension if you have been convicted of more than three offences prosecuted by indictment, each with a prison sentence of two years or more or if you have been convicted of a Schedule 1 Offence (offence involving a child)under the Criminal Records Act. To see schedule 1 of the Criminal Records Act follow this link:
If you have been convicted of an offence prosecuted by summary conviction, your waiting period is 5 years following the completion of all portions of your sentence (including probation and fines). If you have been convicted of an offence prosecuted by indictment, your waiting period is 10 years following the completion of all portions of your sentence.
What is involved in the application process?
In order to apply for a record suspension, you must obtain the following documents:
• Your criminal record from the RCMP;
• A local police check from all police services in the areas that you have lived in the past 5 years;
• Your court records confirming your charges and sentences and also confirming that all fines are paid in full;
• Military conduct sheet (if applicable)
• Documents to support your identification such as a drivers licence or passport if you are a Canadian Citizen or immigration documents
You must then complete the record suspension application form and the measurable benefit/sustained rehabilitation form which explains to the Parole Board of Canada specifically how a record suspension would “provide you with a measurable benefit and sustain your rehabilitation into society as a law-abiding citizen” . You must include payment of the fee to apply for a record suspension which is currently $631.00 but will increase to $644.88 as of March 31, 2020. This can be paid by bank draft or certified cheque payable to the Receiver General of Canada or by using the pre-authorized credit card payment form.
Remember, you can complete a record suspension application on your own but if you feel that hiring a professional to complete the application for you is the best choice, make sure you are choosing a reputable business. Read reviews, search the company with the Better Business Bureau and beware of online companies that are using logos that try to trick you into thinking they are official government agencies.
I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. Call Ron Ellis Law and find out why we are Just. Right. if you want help with obtaining your record suspension.
Blog post authored by Melissa Anjema, Licensed Paralegal