What is a Record Suspension?
Previously known as a pardon, a record suspension is an order keeping an individual’s criminal conviction record separately from other criminal records. As a result, the person’s convictions will not be seen on criminal record checks. However, the criminal record is not entirely erased. Any record suspension linked to a sexual offence is “flagged” in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) system and will be divulged on a vulnerable sector check.
A record suspension allows a person who has made positive changes in their life to be released from the negative stigma and consequences attached to having a criminal record. Anyone with a criminal conviction for which they have been granted a record suspension has the right not to be discriminated against.
Denying, granting, and revoking record suspensions is the responsibility of the Parole Board of Canada.
Am I Eligible for a Record Suspension?
According to eligibility requirements set in 2012, anyone who has been convicted of the following is NOT eligible for a record suspension:
l Under the Criminal Records Act, a Schedule 1 Offence (sexual offence involving a child)
l Greater than 3 offences prosecuted by indictment each with a prison sentence of 2 or more years
To apply for a Canadian pardon, you must meet each of the 3 following conditions. No exceptions will be made.
l You have completed your sentence, including paying any compensation, fines, restitution orders, and surcharges, as well as any conditional sentence or probation order, and served your full sentence including statutory release/ parole.
l You have adhered to “good conduct” and have not been convicted of subsequent offences, and have no outstanding fees (including traffic tickets) or new charges.
l You have met the required wait times: 5 years for a summary offence (or a service offence under the National Defence Act) or 10 years for an indicatable offence (or a service offence under the National Defence Act for which you were imprisoned or detained for 6 months or more or fined $5,000 or more)
How Do I Apply?
This process is detailed in the Application Guide, which you should be sure to read carefully.
The process includes:
l Being fingerprinted
l Obtaining your criminal record from the RCMP, as well as the local police in any and all towns or cities you have lived in for the past five years (provided you lived in the area for 3 or more months), including your current location
l Payment of a $631 (as of May 2012) application fee
In some instances, you may also be required to submit your court information, Military Conduct Sheet, Proof of Conviction, and/ or immigration documents. The cost of attaining a record suspension may be partially or fully covered by some Ontario Work offices.
In some situations, your criminal record may prevent you from traveling to some other countries. A Waiver is a document, issued by the country you plan to travel to, that gives you permission to enter even though you do not meet all the requirements for entry. For example, the United States denies entry to people who have been convicted of specific crimes, which are detailed at www.state.gov.
If one of these crimes is included on your criminal record, you must apply for a Waiver of Inadmissibility for entry into the U.S. If you attempt to enter the U.S. without a waiver, you could be detained, charged, incarcerated, and/ or fined.
The Department of Homeland Security, a division of the U.S. Customs & Border Protection, will issue the Waiver, which is only in effect for a short period of time. To apply, you must complete Form I-192 and submit the necessary documentation. To access the Application Form, along with instructions on how to complete it and a list of crimes it pertains to, visit the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration website at www.uscis.gov. Once you have completed your application, you must submit it to a CBP Port of Entry.
It typically takes up to a year to complete the application process. Although the application costs $585 (as of May 2012), you may have additional expenses depending on the types of documents you are required to submit.
Despite have received a record suspension, you may still require a travel waiver to enter the U.S. This includes conditional discharges for certain offences. This is because U.S. Border officials may not recognize a Canadian record suspension and could have access to information that is not available to the Canadian Police.