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Why do I need a pardon or record suspension?

Having a criminal record in Canada can limit your opportunities for employment, education, travel abroad, volunteering, and adoption. A criminal record does not go away on its own, no matter how minor the offense or how long ago the charges occurred. Getting a record suspension is the only way to prevent a criminal record from holding you back.

Are there criminal convictions that won’t stop me from entering the United States?

The United States is strict when it comes to entering the country with a criminal record. However, if you have been convicted of only one crime not involving moral turpitude, you may not be inadmissible to the United States. Instead, you can bring court transcripts with you when entering the United States in the matter they decide to question you regarding the offense. If you have been convicted of one or more than one crime of moral turpitude, the chances of you being denied are very high.

There are times where the border patrol may give you warning that you are inadmissible and advise you to either apply for a Canadian Pardon to remove your records or apply for a US Waiver. In cases where you are not so lucky, the border patrol may flag you in their system and deny you entrance. Once you have been denied and/or flagged from entering the United States, you will need to apply for a US Waiver (I-192); Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-Immigrant.

Can I apply for a passport with a criminal record?

Yes.

You can apply for a passport with a Criminal Record in Canada. However, you should not travel with a criminal record as you may be denied at the border crossing or international airport as they run your information through the criminal database. All countries have specific entry requirements. As their rules do change, you can consult the Government of Canada Office and inquire about the country you intend to visit to confirm any requirements.

Is my Canadian pardon recognized in the United States?

When you receive a Canadian Pardon or Record Suspension, your criminal convictions are removed from all searchable databases including the shared database that Canada and United States share – The Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC).

A Canadian Pardon/Record Suspension is recognized by the United States when:

You have never been denied entry into the United States, and have not entered the United States since your criminal convictions in Canada. You have since obtained a Canadian Pardon / Record Suspension.

In this case, when entering the United States, they should not detect that you have a criminal record in Canada since the records should be removed after you are granted a Pardon / Record Suspension. Unless you verbally tell them of your record, there would be no way for them to know.

A Canadian Pardon/Record Suspension is not recognized by the United States when:

You obtain a Canadian Pardon / Record Suspension after you have been denied or flagged by the United States. A Canadian Pardon / Record Suspension is not recognized by the United States since they maintain their own database of background information. They will still see you as having a criminal record.

What limitations does a pardon or record suspension have?

A Record Suspension will not clear your entry into any country that is already aware of your criminal record.

A Record Suspension will not clear your Driver’s Abstract.

A Record Suspension will not clear a record of bankruptcy.

A Record Suspension will not clear a driving or firearms prohibition order.

A Record Suspension does not destroy court records. Instead, they are sealed and held separately.

A Record Suspension will only seal convictions the Pardons and Clemency Board is made aware of at the time of consideration.

Individuals convicted of sexual offenses against minors, and those who have been convicted of more than three indictable offenses, each with a sentence of two or more years, are now ineligible for a record suspension.

Can my employer view my criminal record?

An employer can only check to see if you have a criminal record when you have given them permission to do so.

An employer may ask you if you “have ever been convicted of a criminal offense for which a pardon has not been granted” if you live or work in a province where questions regarding criminal records are allowed.

Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland do not have laws in place prohibiting these questions. Employers are all prohibited by law from asking about your record in Ontario, British Columbia, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories.

Certain jobs always require a background check and a criminal record search. This is the case when you would be working with vulnerable sectors such as children, the elderly, or the disabled.

I was arrested, but not convicted. Will this show up on my criminal record?

The files (such as fingerprints, photographs, or court/police notes) pertaining to the arrest will not be removed unless one requests to have them removed.

If you have an arrest record, it is accessible when you complete a Local Police Records Check or Criminal Background Check. When someone requests a Criminal Background check for the purpose of employment, an individual with a non-conviction may come back with results indicating that they “may or may not” have a criminal record. This is misleading to the employer. Another example of the arrest record showing up may be another police intervention such as a noise complaint, or a record of driving over the speed limit when the police are required to pull up your name in their internal database. They can see if your previous arrest record – and this may not act in your favor.

What does the border patrol see when they run my passport?

Your criminal record is not stored in your passport. A Canadian Passport is useful mainly as a proof of citizenship.

When the border guard takes your passport, they are running your ID through the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). This is where criminal conviction records are stored. If they pull up your information and see that you have a criminal past, they then can flag you in their system, and/or deny you from travel.

Will a criminal background check display my youth record?

Youth records are kept restricted, and separate from your public record. Only you your lawyer, and your parents may have access to your youth records.

Criminal background checks carried out by a third party would not have access to your youth record; however, any criminal background checks applied for personally may show your youth record, as you will always have access to your own history.

Does a record suspension apply towards military records?

Yes.

If you have ever served in the Canadian Military, either regular or reserve, Scotia Pardon & Waiver Services Inc. will request your military conduct sheet. Anything that shows up on your military record will be removed as part of the record suspension application.

Do I need a local police records check from a foreign country?

If you are applying for a Pardon, and have lived outside of Canada in the last 5 years, you will be required to have a Foreign Local Police Records check completed by the police department for the town or city that you lived in.

Often, a foreign office will not complete the Local Police Records Check form sent by the Parole Board of Canada. If this is the case, a signed letter from the Police Service stating that you have been in good conduct will also be accepted when submitting your application to the Parole Board of Canada.

If it is in a foreign language, you must have the documents translated. The translated documents and original Foreign Local Police Records Check must be submitted with all other documents.

Which courthouses are contacted for a court information check?

Each and every court that heard the case.

A Court Information Check may not always match up with the Criminal Record Check, and if that is the case, Court Transcripts need to be submitted for further clarification of the actual incident.

The Court holds all true copies, and if needed, the RCMP and Police Services need to be contacted to change their information according to the Court Transcripts.

Can a record suspension be denied?

The National Parole Board has the sole discretion to grant, deny, or revoke a record suspension application. The Pardons and Clemency board may propose to deny a record suspension after making its review and evaluating for good conduct.

The Board will consider the following when making their decision:

Information about charges that were subsequently withdrawn, stayed, or dismissed.

Charges that resulted in a peace bond, diversion, or an acquittal will also be investigated. The relevance of this information increases when the charges are of a serious nature, and/or are related to the convictions on the record for which the suspension is requested.

With regards to a peace bond or the use of alternative measures (e.g. Community service); adherence to the conditions, the date on which the conditions were imposed, and the date of the originating incident will also be taken in to account.

Any record of absolute or conditional discharges.

Information about convictions under provincial statutes.

Information provided by law enforcement agencies about suspected or alleged illegal behavior.

Representations provided on behalf of the applicant or Scotia Pardon & Waiver Services Inc..

With respect to applicants convicted of a sex offense prosecuted by way of indictment, any information received from law enforcement agencies further to inquiries made by the board.

Should information come to light that warrants a proposal to deny from the Board, a notice will be given of 60 days in which the proposal can be appealed.

A senior member of Scotia Pardon & Waiver Services Inc. will help construct an appropriate response to any proposal to deny a record suspension for our client.

Can a record suspension ever be revoked?

Yes.

If you have received a suspension and are subsequently convicted of a new criminal offense, then your record may be brought back. If you are convicted of an indictable offense, this is done automatically.

If the conviction is for a summary offense, the National Parole Board will determine whether to revoke the suspension or not.

They will consider:

Past convictions that have been pardoned or suspended.

Information that suggests a significant disregard for public safety and/or laws and regulations.

Whether the new offense is consistent with the offense for which the suspension has been issued or granted.

The time period since the satisfaction of all sentences.

If for whatever reason your suspension is revoked by the National Parole Board you can apply for it again once you meet the eligibility requirements.

Does a stayed charge give you a criminal record?

A stayed charge or a stay of proceedings does not count as a conviction. It is a non-conviction record. It may still appear on a local police record check and would require a record purge for a permanent deletion.

Will a Criminal Background Check Display My Youth Record?

Youth records are kept restricted and separate from your public record. Only you, your lawyer, and your parents may have access to your youth records.

Criminal background checks carried out by a third party would not have access to your youth record; however, any criminal background checks applied for personally may show your youth record, as you will always have access to your own history.

When is a person eligible for a pardon for an indictable offense?

A person is eligible for a Record Suspension/Pardon for an Indictable offense 10 years from when they complete sentence given by the court judge; given that they have not been convicted of any further offenses during this period of time. A sentence may include fines paid, victim surcharges, restitution, and/or compensation orders.

When is a person eligible for a pardon for a summary offense?

A person is eligible for a Record Suspension or Pardon for a Summary offense 5 years from when they complete sentence given by the court judge; given that they have not been convicted of any further offenses during this period of time. A sentence may include fines paid, victim surcharges, restitution, and/or compensation orders.

What is an indictable offense?

An indictable offense in Canada is also known as an Indictable Conviction Offense. Indictable offenses are the more serious offenses under the Criminal Code and they come with more serious punishments, such as longer prison sentences, probation and/or prohibition orders and larger fines.

Examples of Indictable Offenses:

  • Possession of a Narcotics for the Purpose of Trafficking
  • Robbery
  • Break & Enter
  • Assault Causing Bodily Harm
  • Assault with a Weapon
  • Theft Over
  • Fraud Over
What is a US waiver?

A US Waiver, also known as I-192 – Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-Immigrant is an application for those who have become inadmissible to the United States.

A Canadian with a criminal record may need to apply for a US Waiver if they have become inadmissible or cannot apply for a Canadian Pardon/Record Suspension yet because they have not met the eligibility requirements.

A US Waiver allows a non-immigrant advance permission to temporarily enter the United States. The United States generally grants waivers that last from one to five years in length. Once the waiver expires, you will need to re-apply. Each time you apply for a US Waiver, there is a filing fee payable directly to United States Government. Since this fee changes from time to time, you may contact the USCIS for the most recent fee schedule by calling 1 800 375 5283 or consulting www.uscis.gov

A US Waiver application takes approximately six to twelve months to complete.

What is a peace bond?

A peace bond is an order from a criminal court that requires an individual to keep the peace or be on good behavior for a period of time. A peace bond is meant to aid one in refraining from activities, and/or the direct or indirect contact with another person or location that may lead to another arrest. If the individual is able to keep the peace for the period of time set forth by the court, the criminal charges will be dropped or withdrawn.

Peace bonds are typically set for a period of one year but can be shorter.

One year is the maximum length of a peace bond.

What is a hybrid offense?

A Hybrid Offense can be any of the examples given in Summary or Indictable offenses. Some offenses are determinable based on the nature of the offense; however, some are not, and can only be confirmed after contacting the Courthouse where the case was heard.

Examples of Hybrid Offenses:

  • Dangerous Driving
  • Assault
  • Theft
  • Fraud
  • Criminal Harassment
I received an absolute discharge. Do I need to apply for a pardon or purge?

An absolute discharge does not require a pardon.

If your absolute discharge took place before the date of July 24, 1992, you will require a record purge to remove the documents in question. A purge application for an absolute discharge is not necessary for the removal of records formed on or after July 24, 1992, as these records will be purged automatically three years after the completion of any imposed sentence. In some rare cases, however, records are not properly removed, and a Purge Application may need to be completed.

In order to confirm that the files have been purged, a Local Police Records Check would be required.

Why should I complete a local police records check when a criminal record check is already completed?

A Local Police Records Check shows local records only. It may not show records from other cities or provinces. (See: Canadian Criminal Record Check or CPIC for full records in Canada). A Local Police Records Check may show not only criminal records, but incident reports such as noise complaints, or other police interventions.

For the purpose of a Pardon or Record Suspension, a Local Police Records Check needs to be completed for the city or town you currently live in, in addition to every city or town you have lived in the last 5 years for 3 months or more.

The results of the Local Police Records Check will not usually show any additional charges (that were not already listed by the Criminal Record Check); however, if additional charges are shown, a Court Information Check must be completed to retrieve additional information on the offense. This ensures that when a Pardon/Record Suspension is completed, all applicable records will be removed, even the ones that were not properly documented in the Canadian Police Information Center (CPIC).

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Are You Eligible?

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EASTERN & CENTRAL CANADA DIVISION

Scotia Pardon & Waiver Services Inc.
2010 Winston Park Drive, Suite 200
Oakville ON, L6H 5R7

WESTERN CANADA DIVISION

Scotia Pardon & Waiver Services Inc.
1275 West 6 Avenue, Suite 300
Vancouver BC, V6H 1A6

Toll-Free
1 888 418 9951