How does it work?
When you were charged with a crime, your information was submitted to the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) where it became part of a database of active criminal records. When you are convicted of an offence, the record because permanent and searchable. The RCMP keeps a record of your fingerprints and a list of convictions on file and employers and others can request a search, but only with your permission.
This category of criminal records doesn’t go away unless you apply for a Record Suspension. This means that you might have trouble applying for jobs and other opportunities unless you apply for a Record Suspension.
What happens when you are granted a Record Suspension?
When you are granted a Record Suspension, your record is removed from the main database of records and sealed in an inaccessible database. This means that when people ask you for a record check, you can confidently get it done knowing that your record will come back clear with some exceptions.
The RCMP will not erase the record. If you are ever convicted again, the pardon will likely be revoked and you would need to complete a new waiting period before you could apply again. When the pardon is revoked, the record is put back in the accessible database.
There are some situations in which a pardoned or suspended record may come up.
One situation where the record may come up is the US border. In the past, it was believed that US officials would rely on the latest version of the CPIC database in order to determine who has a criminal record. However, there have been many reports of people being turned away with pardons even if they had not tried to cross since their conviction. It appears that the US regularly downloads the database.
Because the US border is not obligated to follow Canadian law, they can deny you entry based on a pardoned or suspended record.
Once a person is denied entry to the US, they are flagged in the preliminary screening system, which means they need to get a waiver before they can cross.
If you have a sexual offence on your record, it could still be flagged even after a pardon. It could come up if you were applying to work with people who are considered “vulnerable,” for example, children, the elderly or the disabled.
What are the benefits of a pardon?
Background checks are required in many areas of Canadian life. In today’s information age, companies and organizations are more risk-averse than ever. They often rely on background checks to determine whether or not they should trust someone. The information you can determine about someone from the fact that they have a record is limited. Nevertheless, this has become the primary way that people in Canada are “checked out.”
A background check can stand in your way in numerous areas of life:
- Finding a job
- Getting a promotion
- Applying for contracts
- Business licences
- Getting a professional licence to practice
- Some post-secondary programs (especially those with practicums)
- Volunteering in the community
- Helping out with your child’s school activities, clubs or sports teams
- Getting a visa or electronic travel authorization (ETA) to a foreign country
If you have a record, its important to get it sealed as soon as you become eligible because it can take 10-18 months to apply for a record suspension. In the meantime, opportunities can come up that you don’t want to miss out on.
When you erase your record, it doesn’t change the past. However, it’s an acknowledgement that you have moved on and your conviction should no longer reflect negatively on your character. For many of our clients, this is like a load being lifted from their shoulders.
Once the record is sealed you can afford to dream big and no longer need to live with the knowledge that your record could come up at the wrong time.
If you would like to get started on clearing a criminal record, contact us today for a free consultation at 1-866-972-7366. We’ll let you know if you are eligible and what steps are required for a Record Suspension.