What is a Pardon?
Having a criminal record can have a very negative impact on your life, especially if you need to get a background check for work volunteer or school purposes. It can also limit your ability to travel and can have an impact on your future opportunities.
Many people seek a pardon for their past conduct because they do not want a mistake to follow them. The stigma associated with a criminal record can be overwhelming.
The Parole Board of Canada is responsible for pardons and record suspensions. Your criminal record will be sealed upon notification that your record suspension has been granted.
How to determine if you are eligible for a pardon?
If you were convicted of an offence in the past, completed the requirements of your sentence and have stayed out of trouble, you may be eligible to apply for a pardon.
There are two main factors that determine If you are eligible to apply for a pardon:
The length of time since your sentence has been completed
a. For a summary offence you must wait 5 years and for an indicatable offence you must wait 10 years.
The type of offence you were convicted of
a. You are not able to receive a pardon if you have three offences that carry a sentence of two years ore more or any sexual offences against minors
What are the steps to apply for a pardon?
A pardon application involves filling out the required forms. The process involves 9 steps and if any of the steps are not completed properly your application can be rejected and delayed a considerable amount of time.
You must obtain your RCMP fingerprints along with your proof of convictions
You must obtain your court information from all jurisdictions in which you were charged
You must obtain a police record check for all cities in which you have lived in the last 5 years for longer than three months.
You must prepare a statement that clearly indicates how a record suspension would benefit you and how it would sustain your rehabilitation into society as a law-abiding citizen.
You must also describe all positive changes you have made to improve your situation since your conviction as well as provide Information on the offence that are on your record.
Will a Pardon Guarantee My Freedom to the United States?
Unfortunately, pardons are not recognized by United States Customs and do not erase convicted offences from your record, rather it sets them aside.
While obtaining a pardon can assist you with entering the states, you will likely still have to apply for a Waiver as It is illegal to enter the United States with a criminal record.
If you are asked by a Customers Officer if you’ve ever been criminally charged or fingerprinted, you would must answer honestly. If your answer is yes, and you have not applied for a waiver you risk being barred from entering the United States, detained or even arrested.
For this reason, it is often prudent to obtain a waiver, in addition to being pardoned.
Do you need to hire a lawyer to apply for a pardon?
While you are not required to hire a lawyer in order to apply for a pardon, it is important that all of the documents are filled our properly as any errors can cause your application to be delayed or even declared void.
A lawyer can help you navigate the process and increase the chances of your pardon being granted.
If your application for a pardon is denied, you will be required to wait 12 months before being eligible to apply again.