Applying for a pardon (now called Record Suspension) can be a long process. After going through all the steps of collecting the documents and completing the application, the Record Suspension application package is sent to the Parole Board of Canada. For many people, this is the most stressful part.
Once in the hands of the Parole Board, there is little to do but wait.
The Parole Board of Canada has established two waiting periods for the determination of a Record Suspension:
Review of your Record Suspension application
The review of your Record Suspension application takes place in Ottawa. The Parole Board does not hold hearings for Record Suspension applications. They will base their review on the documents you provide and their own investigations. During the period of review, the Parole Board will look at many factors.
Interactions with police
It’s important to keep a clean record between finishing your sentence and applying for the Record Suspension. If you have any interactions with police, even if charges were not laid or were stayed, your application could be denied. Some of the reasons we have seen were not criminal. For example, one person received a proposal to deny letter due to speeding tickets.
If you are planning to apply for a Record Suspension or are working on a Record Suspension you should do everything you can to avoid any situation where the police may be called. Some other common circumstances may include:
- Public disturbances, such as fights or arguments
- Public drunkenness
- Domestic incidents
- Careless driving
- Being around people who are breaking the law
- Recreational drug use
If you are still engaged in these activities, you may want to consider if now Is the right time to apply for a Record Suspension. If your application is denied for these reasons, the Parole Board will not return your fee of $631.
Not all of these incidents will appear in a police check, but the Parole Board will do a much more thorough job of investigating your background. For example, traffic tickets may not appear on a police check, but the Parole Board has been known to consider them.
Your personal statements
When you submit your application, you will need to provide a statement about your rehabilitation and why you think the application will benefit you. In this statement, it is a good idea to show insight into why the actions that led to your criminal record were wrong. Denying the actions or blaming them on others can prevent your application from being approved.
You should be able to demonstrate that you have moved on from the past. This is a good place to mention courses you have taken, volunteer work, counselling and other positive actions.
Bringing the administration of justice into disrepute
Offences that created a great deal of harm to the victims could result in your application being denied even if all the other criteria are met. This was one of the controversial aspects of the changes made to the pardon system because it gives the Parole Board a great deal of discretion and prevents people who are no longer involved in criminal activity from moving forward.
This criterium could be applied in cases that received a lot of media attention or it could be applied if the nature of the offence was extremely serious. For example, records involving violent offences, sexual assaults or widespread fraud that deprived people of their savings could be denied.
What if the Parole Board wants to deny the application?
If the Parole Board wants to deny the application, you will receive a letter explaining why. Then it is up to you to convince them in a letter to reconsider.
You can do this by:
- Highlighting the steps you took to rehabilitation
- Explain any extenuating circumstances, such as a mental illness
- Demonstrate any restitution you have made
If the Parole Board is proposing to deny it based on a new police incident, explain the circumstances of the incident. If your role was minimal or accidental the Parole Board may grant the Record Suspension application. For example, you gave a ride to a friend who dropped a joint in your car, which was then found at a routine traffic stop. You could explain that it wasn’t yours, and you didn’t know he had it.
If you are planning to apply for a Record Suspension, it’s a good idea to reflect on why you need the application and if you can truly say you are ready to put the past behind you. If you are not sure if you are qualified for a Record Suspension, contact our advisors today for free consultation. We have been processing pardons since 1989 and can advise you of your chances based on your record and any recent police contact you may have had.
The ultimate decision is up to the Parole Board of Canada as they are the independent government agency responsible for granting Record Suspensions. However, we can help you put your best foot forward. Contact us today for more information about applying for a Record Suspension at 1-866-972-7366.