A Canadian pardon allows people with a criminal record to have better educational and job opportunities in life and gives them a chance to reintegrate into the society. Contrary to popular belief, a pardon does not totally erase your criminal past. In March 2012, the Canadian government made several key changes to the pardon system. They also replaced the term “pardon” with “record suspension”. Here, we will take a look at the eligibility, application process and other important pointers about record suspension that a potential applicant must be aware of. If you have any questions and are in need of a criminal lawyer in Toronto, contact Robb MacDonald today.

Who Can Apply

Record suspensions are carried out by the Parole Board of Canada (PBC). To be eligible for a suspension, the applicant must have demonstrated good behaviour and should have served as a law abiding citizen for a certain number of years post the completion of their sentence. The duration depends on the crime they were convicted for. Petty crimes like trespassing, harassment and impersonation are categorized as summary conviction offences and people convicted for these crimes must have demonstrated good behaviour for five years after the completion of their sentence. If the applicant was convicted for more serious offences like murder, the waiting time is ten years from the completion of sentence. Besides these crimes, there are also “service offences” which are crimes committed under the National Defence Act. For such crimes, the waiting time is five years for people who were fined less than $5000 or were imprisoned for less than six months. For crimes with a larger sentence, the waiting time is ten years.

How To Apply

The PBC has stated that record suspension applications may be submitted by the applicant themselves. However, the process itself is quite lengthy and can take anywhere between six months to a year to be completed. Because of this, it is critical that the applicant gets all their details right in the application the first time itself so as to avoid any possible denial of suspension. You may contact your lawyer or apply through non-profit organizations like the National Pardon Centre. The Parole Board charges a one-time $631 fee to process your application.

Benefits Of Record Suspension

As noted in the opening paragraph, a record suspension does not erase your past criminal history. All benefits that an applicant receives are conditional and are subject to your continued good behaviour. Having said that, record suspensions open the door to a wide range of job, education and volunteering opportunities. In addition to this, it is easier to obtain business permits, there are fewer restrictions on driving and adoption procedures are much simpler. However, if you plan on working abroad, please note that a Canadian record suspension does not have a legal bearing elsewhere. You may be required to obtain a US entry waiver for crossing into the United States.

A record suspension offers a fresh lease of life to people with a criminal history. By understanding the caveats better, applicants will be able to enjoy all the benefits that a suspension offers and this will give you a great chance at getting back into the mainstream population.

Article written by Anand Srinivasan.

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