You may have heard about changes to Canada’s pardon (Record Suspension) system in the last year. For most people there are no changes to the process of obtaining a BC Record Suspension.

The biggest change is for people who were convicted prior to 2012. For those people, who have not yet applied for a BC Record Suspension, there may be a few advantages:

1) The eligibility period would be reduced from five years for summary offences to three years.

2) For indictable offences, the eligibility period would be reduced from 10 years to five years.

3) Some people who were previously ineligible would become eligible to apply. This includes people with more than three indictable offences each with a prison sentence of over two years.

4) Slightly easier criteria for those convicted prior to 2010. One of the changes to the Criminal Records Act in 2010 was to add a provision that the issuing of a Record Suspension “would not bring the administration of justice into disrepute.” This is a subjective provision related to the seriousness of the offence.

What is the process to apply for a BC Record Suspension?

A Record Suspension is issued by the Parole Board of Canada. Before you can apply, you must get a copy of your criminal record and all of your court documents. You also must get local police checks from all the municipalities where you have lived.

Some municipalities in BC have their own police forces. These include Vancouver, Victoria and Abbotsford. Some have detachments of the RCMP. Before you go, visit the website of the police force you need to attend, so you understand what type of ID and fees are required. If you are doing an application with AllCleared, we will obtain your documents for you.

Another reason you may need to attend a local police department or detachment is to get your fingerprints taken. This is required for obtaining your criminal record from the RCMP. For this step, you can also attend an accredited fingerprint agency.

If you apply through AllCleared, we can help speed things up by using our police partner to obtain your documents while we wait for your criminal record to come back. Otherwise, you would need your criminal record in order to obtain your other documents.

What if you were convicted prior to 2012?

If you were convicted prior to 2012, the process for applying for a BC Record Suspension is the same as that applied to everyone else. You will go through the same steps to collect your documents and use the same application form.

Once you submit your application to the Parole Board, they will decide whether to assess your application under the current rules or the previous rules.

Why are these changes applied to BC?

The reason these changes are being applied to BC residents is because a BC Supreme Court judge has struck down the retroactive elements of the law as unconstitutional. Retroactive means that the new laws were applied to people who had already been sentenced. The judge found that, in effect, these changes increased the “punishment” of the person after sentencing contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A similar finding has been made in Ontario, so Ontario residents are also permitted to apply under the old laws.

Unfortunately, the BC judge does not have the power to change federal law. This needs to be done through government legislation or through the Supreme Court of Canada. While the current government has promised to reform the pardon system, no legislation has been tabled yet.

If you would like more information about your eligibility under the pre-2012 rules or the current rules, please contact us for a free consultation at 1-866-972-7366.