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Criminal records can have a serious negative impacts on the lives of Canadians and their families. Everyday activities might be difficult or hindered. A criminal record can affect eligibility for employment, volunteering or travelling. This can be the case even if your criminal record is out of date and in the past. At Pardon Services Canada, we believe in second chances. A Record Suspension, the sealing of your criminal record, puts your criminal history behind you. It allows you to start fresh and enjoy the opportunities that you worked hard to achieve. However, there are a few helpful tips you should know before filling out an application. You should understand the sentence and what type of offences are eligible for a Record Suspension.

Offences on criminal records

Summary offences

Summary conviction offences encompass the most minor offences in the Criminal Code. Examples include activities such as theft under $500, trespassing, public indecency and disorderly conduct. Unless a different penalty is specified, summary conviction offences are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 or six months’ jail, and on some occasions both. Unless previously considered indictable, summary offences are not fingerprinted.

Hybrid offences

Hybrid offences fall under a grey area. These offences can be prosecuted either by summary conviction or indictment. The Crown chooses or elects the mode of prosecution. Hybrid offences include impaired driving, assault and theft under $5,000. Hybrid offences are considered indictable until the Crown makes its election. As fingerprinting occurs before the Crown prosecutes, you will be fingerprinted for a hybrid offence even if it results in a summary conviction.

Indictable offences

An indictable offence is more serious than a summary conviction offence. It will result in exposure to more severe penalties. If you are prosecuted by indictment, you are entitled to trial by jury for most offences. Indictable offences include murder, sexual assault, extortion, and certain heavy drug offences. You do not have the right to trial by jury if you are tried for offences such as theft under $5,000 or fraud under $5,000.

Are you eligible for a Record Suspension?

Depending on your criminal charge, you will have to wait a period of time before you are eligible for a Record Suspension. For convictions, this waiting period begins after all sentences or fines imposed by the court are completed. For other cases, the waiting period starts after the court date. The waiting period for a summary offence is five years. For an indictable offence it is 10 years. These are the most common. If conditional discharges are applied, the waiting period is three years. These waiting periods may seem long. However, it is recommended that you start your application early. It takes time to collect necessary documentation.

While many criminal records are eligible for a Record Suspension, certain types of convictions are ineligible. You cannot apply for a Record Suspension if you’ve been convicted of a sexual offence against a minor. You are also ineligible if you have more than three convicted indictable offences with a prison sentence of two years or more.

Application checklist

□ I completed my sentence (paid fines, surcharges, served the sentence or parole)

□ I have completed the waiting period (If you are not sure of the waiting period, please contact us for a free consultation)

□ I have maintain a clean record with no new offences

To learn more, or if you have any questions concerning record suspensions, call us toll-free at 1-866-972-7366 for a free consultation with a client advisor.