What is a Record Suspension in Canada?

A record suspension is an opportunity to move on from the barriers caused by a criminal record. Regardless of whether the offence is old or minor, a criminal record stays with you permanently unless you take steps to request a suspension. You have the option to apply to have your criminal record placed apart from other criminal records after a specific period of time set by federal law.

A record suspension, also called a pardon, can make it easier to travel abroad or get permission to visit foreign territories. It can also help you to get back on your feet by removing one barrier to getting a job. When an employer requests a criminal record check as a condition of employment, neither the record suspension nor the original record will appear on it.

Although the suspension removes the criminal record from the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database, the record is not erased. The process technically only covers the federal database, but typically provincial and municipal agencies also place the criminal record apart when they receive notice of a suspension.

Suspensions of former sexual offenders are flagged by the CPIC and will appear on a vulnerable sector check prior to volunteer work or employment with vulnerable people. That includes people who are at greater risk of harm from someone in a position of authority because of age, disability or other circumstances.

If later you are convicted of another offence, the suspension can be revoked. The criminal record can also go back into the CPIC database if the Parole Board of Canada decides you were not eligible for a suspension based on new information. This is one reason why it is important to closely follow the guidelines for requesting a pardon. If you find the process too complex or difficult, experts can help you through it.

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