Criminal record suspensions are granted pursuant to the Criminal Records Act (CRA) and are done so at the discretion of the Parole Board of Canada. The Parole Board of Canada has the authority to grant, deny and even revoke criminal record suspensions.
A criminal record suspension is the removal of all information pertaining to criminal convictions from the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). When you are granted a record suspension, any information about prior criminal convictions cannot be disclosed without the permission of the Ministry of the Public Safety.
The purpose of a criminal record suspension is that it recognizes that a person’s character should not be negatively affected by a criminal record for the rest of his or her life and that a person has made efforts to be a law-abiding citizen.
Eligibility to Apply for a Criminal Record Suspension
If you were convicted of a summary offence then you are eligible to apply for a criminal record suspension 5 years after you have completed you sentence. If you were convicted of an indictable offence then you must wait 10 years after your sentence is complete before you can apply for a record suspension. It is important to remember that the 5 or 10 year waiting period does not begin on your conviction date, you must wait until you have completed your entire sentence, including any probation.
Ineligibility for a Criminal Record Suspension
There are two circumstances which would make you ineligible for a record suspension. First, if you have been convicted of a Schedule 1 offence (offences of a sexual nature involving children) you are not eligible to apply for a record suspension under the Criminal Records Act. Second, if have 3 convictions for indictable offences, then you are ineligible to apply.
The changes from a pardon to a record suspension now require that you demonstrate to the Parole Board of Canada that you have been a law-abiding citizen since the time of your conviction. The fact that you have not been charged or convicted of another offence does not create a presumption that you are a person of good conduct; rather there is an onus on you to establish that you been a law-abiding citizen since receiving a conviction for a criminal offence.
Examples of good conduct of a law-abiding citizen include;
- Being employed
- Pursuing an education.
- Making positive contributions to the community.
- Taking responsibility for prior convictions.
- Taking positive steps to ensure you do not commit further offences or associate with those individuals who are involved in criminal conduct.
Limitations of a Record Suspension
One of the limitations of a record suspension for criminal convictions is that that the Criminal Records Act only applies to federal agencies and departments who routinely keep such information. Provincial and municipal police agencies are not required not required to remove information pertaining to criminal convictions in circumstances where you have been granted a record suspension under the Criminal Records Act. However, most provincial and municipal police agencies will acknowledge your record suspension and will restrict access to that type of information upon being notified that a criminal record suspension has been granted.
Another limitation of a record suspension for criminal convictions is that it does not have any effect on prohibition orders that can accompany convictions for certain criminal offences. For example, there are some criminal offences that also carry mandatory weapons of firearm prohibitions on conviction. These prohibitions can either be for a period of time or they can be lifetime prohibitions.
Where you are convicted of a criminal offence and a lifetime prohibition firearm prohibition is ordered, the fact that you may later receive a criminal record suspension has no impact on that prohibition order. This essentially negates the purpose of the record suspension. A weapons or firearm prohibition indicates to whoever is looking at your records that you have been convicted of something in the past to justify the prohibition order.
Similarly to a weapons or firearm prohibition, orders requiring a DNA sample are not impacted by criminal record suspensions. Simply put, if you were convicted of a criminal offence and you were order to provide a sample of your DNA for the DNA data bank, the record of your DNA will not be removed from the data bank if you were to receive a record suspension.
Lastly, a record suspension or pardon does not guarantee that you will be permitted to enter another country.
Revoking Criminal Record Suspensions or Pardons
A criminal record suspension or pardon does not completely remove your criminal record from CPIC records. The Parole Board of Canada has the authority to revoke record suspensions and pardons on 3 grounds. First if you are convicted of a summary offence, your record suspension or pardon may be revoked. If the Parole Board of Canada determines that you are no longer a person of good conduct, then your record suspension may be revoked. Third, if the Parole Board of Canada is made aware that you made a false statement on your application for a record suspension, then it may be revoked.
You should also aware that if you are subsequently convicted of an indictable offence or a hybrid offence (an offence punishable on either indictable or summary conviction) then your record suspension will automatically be revoked.
Applying for a Criminal Record Suspension
Prior to the change from a pardon to a criminal record suspension, an application for a pardon was approximately $150. Now, an application for a record suspension is costs more than $600. Depending upon whether you were convicted of a summary offence or an indictable offence, it may take anywhere from 6 months to more than a year to process your application.
When you apply for a record suspension you will require a certified copy of your criminal record which you can obtain by attending your local police agency and making an application to the RCMP. A criminal record check usually costs about $60 and it can take several months to receive it from the RCMP.
If you wish to apply for a criminal record suspension, contact me today.
For additional information about a criminal record suspension or removing other records, visit the RCMP’s website.