Updated April 30, 2021
There are many different kinds of criminal records and the length of a criminal record depends on the type.
Most importantly, if you have been convicted of a criminal offence, it can last for life if you don’t do anything about it. This is the most common type of record that AllCleared helps with, but we also handle purges.
Conviction Criminal Record
If you have been convicted in a Canadian court of law, a conviction will stay on your record until you are 125 years old. In other words, it’s for life.
Getting a Record Suspension (Canadian pardon)
The most common way to remove a criminal record is to apply for a Record Suspension. This is the Canadian government’s name for a pardon. When you apply for a Record Suspension, your record may not be removed immediately from the CPIC database, here’s why:
- Your sentence: All aspects of your sentence, such as pay fines, complete community service, probation or jail time must be finished before the official waiting period begins.
- Waiting period: Before you can apply for a Record Suspension, you must maintain good conduct and wait for five years in the case of a Summary offence or 10 years in the case of an Indictable offence.
- Processing time: It takes the Parole Board of Canada six months to process a Summary offence and 12 months to process an Indictable offence. If the Parole Board considers denying your application, they will send you a letter and give you an opportunity to respond. In this case, the processing time is 24 months.
Once you are granted a Record Suspension, you technically still have a record, but it is sealed and cannot be released except with permission by the public safety minister, which would only be granted in very rare instances. If you were convicted of a new offence, the Record Suspension would be revoked and the record would be unsealed. You would need to restart the waiting period for a Record Suspension based on the last conviction.
Vulnerable Sector Check
If a record contains sexual offences, it could be revealed for the purpose of a Vulnerable Sector Check even if a pardon or Record Suspension has already been received.
A Vulnerable Sector Check is intended for people working with children or vulnerable adults. This is common for workers and volunteers in healthcare, childcare, or social work.
You could have a record even if you haven’t been convicted. Local police and RCMP keep records of charges, though they may not show up on a criminal record check. You can check your record at your local police station.
Absolute and Conditional Discharges
How long does it take to clear a criminal record? If you received a discharge, your record will disappear on its own if you complete the conditions of the sentence. You will not need to apply for Record Suspension:
Conditional Discharge: Your record will be removed after three years.
Absolute Discharge: Your record will be removed after one year.
If you were convicted as a youth, your record will also be removed unless you happen to reoffend as an adult before it expires, in which case your record will transfer to your adult record, and you will need to obtain a Record Suspension. Youth records expire after three years for summary offences and five years for indictable offences.
Crossing the US Border
Unfortunately, the United States does not recognize Canadian pardons or Record Suspensions. Many of our clients are surprised when charges from the ’60s and ’70s turn up at the border.
As far as the US is concerned, Canadian criminal records are for life.
A US Entry Waiver is good for six months to five years. Six-month waivers are rare.
Planning your Record Suspension or Waiver Renewal
Anyone who has applied for a Record Suspension or US Entry Waiver will tell you that there are a lot of documents required to complete the application process.
If you want to save time, consider starting your application early.
Record Suspension: Get started six months before your eligibility date. You can call us earlier, especially if you don’t know your eligibility date. We can help you assess your situation and request your documents.
US Entry Waiver: There is no official wait time for a US Entry Waiver. You can request one any time after you complete your sentence. Very recent convictions can affect your chances of success. Call us for a free consultation. If you already have a waiver, we recommend that you call us a year before it expires if you don’t want to lose your access to the United States.
A criminal record rarely, if ever goes away on its own. You can remove your criminal record from the CPIC database, all you need to do is begin your Record Suspension application process today. Contact AllCleared for a FREE consultation. We know how to navigate the application process for pardons and waivers. Let us help you move forward.