If you’re reading this, you’re probably curious about how the record suspension (formerly known as pardons) process works. You’re most likely looking to obtain a record suspension so that your criminal record is no longer a barrier to employment, education, apartment rental, adoption and mortgage approval, or you just feel that you would like to move on with your life and put your past behind you.
However, just because you would dearly like a record suspension does not mean that you will be eligible to receive one. Read on to learn more about the criteria for record suspensions.
The Waiting Game
The first thing you need to know is that there have been some changes made to the record suspension process in recent years. In 2012, Bill C-10 (also known as the Safe Streets and Communities Act), received Royal Assent. This bill made changes to the Criminal Record Act. One of these changes was length of the waiting period a person must undergo before being able to apply for a record suspension.
If you received a summary conviction, you must now wait five years before you can apply for a record suspension. Was the offence indictable? The waiting period after Bill C-10 passed is now ten years.
The eligibility requirements for a pardon are largely based on your behaviour since completing your sentence and the waiting period. The Parole Board of Canada defines “good conduct” as “behaviour that is consistent with and demonstrates a law-abiding lifestyle.”
Applicants for a record suspension might need to provide documentation that proves their good conduct. Allontario.ca, a business and lifestyle guide for Ontario residents, notes that supporting documentation could include information about an incident that resulted in a charge that was subsequently withdrawn, stayed, or dismissed, or that resulted in a peace bond, in the use of alternative measures or in the acquittal of the applicant; any record of absolute or conditional discharges; or any information submitted to the Board by others, such as victims, with knowledge of the case.
Proving Measurable Benefit
In addition to documenting your good behaviour, you also have to demonstrate that receiving a record suspension will provide you with a measurable benefit and help you continue your rehabilitation as a law-abiding citizen.
Some of the very tangible benefits you could cite include obtaining employment or education and finding a stable and permanent place to live. There are also some intangible benefits, as Allontario.ca points out. Receiving a record suspension removes social stigma and can change the perception others have of you. It also shows you want to improve yourself, and that you’re making a commitment not to re-offend again.
You Complete Me
As with any other government forms, make sure to complete the record suspension application! Don’t submit it unless you’ve checked it over to ensure that you’ve answered every question and attached all the relevant documentation. Are you worried you’ll be too nervous and you might skip something? Ask someone you trust to look it over.
Paying the Price
When you submit your application, don’t forget to include the $631 fee. The Parole Board will not process the application without it, and you will have wasted your time filing the paperwork.
Why You Might Be Ineligible for a Record Suspension
Bill C-10 made some changes to the eligibility requirements for a record suspension. SooToday.com, an online newspaper based in Northern Ontario, explains that if you’ve been convicted of a sexual offence against a minor, you are ineligible for a record suspension. However, there are exceptions to this rule, so consult with a knowledgeable source before you decide to apply.
The federal government also made some other changes to the eligibility requirements for record suspensions. If you’ve been convicted of more than three indictable offences, each with a sentence of two or more years, you will be denied a record suspension.
Allontario.ca, Criminal Record Suspension (former Pardon)
SooToday.com, Pardon me!? Not any more.