Who qualifies for a pardon in Canada?

A pardon, which is now called Record Suspension, seals a criminal record in the national database, which allows you to go on with your life and contribute fully. Once you have a pardon you can apply for jobs and other opportunities with confidence knowing that your background check will come back clear. However, not everyone with a record qualifies for a pardon.

Finish your sentence

If you want to qualify for a pardon eventually, it’s important to complete any aspects of the sentencing as quickly as possible. This means paying off fines. In many cases people will try to apply for a pardon only to realize that they have unpaid fines dating back several years. This is extremely disappointing because once they finally pay off the fine the wait period starts at the beginning.

Wait Period

Woman sitting on bench looking at lakeBefore you apply for a pardon, you need to wait a set amount of time in order to demonstrate good character. The wait periods are:

Summary offence: Five years

Indictable offence: Ten years

If you don’t know whether you have a summary or indictable conviction, this information is found in the court records. It’s sometimes possible to tell based on your conviction, but not in all cases because most offences in Canada are considered “hybrid.” Hybrid means they can either be tried as summary or indictable. Contact us for a free consultation. We will review your information over the phone to find out if it qualifies. However, we may need to get court records to find out if your offence was summary or hybrid.

Ineligible Convictions

In 2012, the government made certain types of records ineligible:

  • Schedule 1 offences against a minor
  • More than three indictable offences, each carrying a sentence of more than two years

Of the Schedule 1 offences, there is an exception if a person was within five years in age of the minor, was not in a position of trust and no force or coercion was used.

What criteria are used to decide who qualifies

Applying for a pardon is not a simple task. You need to provide several forms of documentation to the Parole Board of Canada. They will investigate your background mostly through police records. Meeting the basic criteria doesn’t always mean the applicant qualifies. Some things that can prevent a person from getting a pardon are:

Recent negative police contact: Some people are denied a pardon based on recent police contact even if they have not been charged. This contact might include peace bonds, domestic incidents, harassing phone calls or even multiple traffic tickets.

The seriousness of the past offence: Just because you have finished your waiting period doesn’t mean the Parole Board is required to grant your pardon. A new criterion allows the Parole Board to deny an application if it would “bring the administration of justice into disrepute.” This basically means that if you have a particularly serious offence on your record, you could be denied.

No measurable benefit: If you do not demonstrate remorse or an understanding of the offence or why you would benefit from the Record Suspension, the Parole Board can deny your application. Measurable Benefit is a form that you need to fill out as part of the application.

An application is reviewed to see if it qualifiesAlthough these criteria may seem daunting, it’s important to remember that the majority of applications that are accepted for filing are approved. The biggest reason why pardon applications fail is because they weren’t prepared properly in the first place and were screened out. About 30 percent of applications fail at the screening stage.

Another important point to note about Record Suspensions is that there is a fee of $631. Unfortunately, there is no waiver for those who can’t afford the fee. The fee is not returned if you are unsuccessful, so it is important to ensure that you are eligible and that you prepare your application properly.

You can avoid mistakes by choosing AllCleared to help you with your application. If you would like a free consultation on your eligibility to apply for a pardon, contact us today at 1-866-972-7366.

Are you qualified?

Download our checklist to find out if you are qualified to apply for a Record Suspension. By completing this form, you will be subscribed to receive our newsletter and updates from AllCleared. You can unsubscribe at any time.

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