Record Suspensions in Canada – what are they all about?
Remember: if you are looking for a pardon or record suspension, try a Canadian Pardon | Record Suspension Service.
In this blog, I’ll be talking about Bill C-23’s impact on getting a “pardon” (which may be called a “record suspension” if the proposed law changes). So we start off with the basics…What is a pardon? Well, if you have a criminal record, have finished your sentence, and have waited the requisite time, you may be able to hide your criminal record from the prying and (somewhat discriminatory) eyes of the police, potential employers, U.S. border patrol services, Canadian immigration officials, the courts, volunteer organizations, and anyone else. You see, having a criminal record makes you ineligible or less attractive for certain things – like crossing the U.S. border or getting a job or adopting a child. So hiding your criminal record is a way to be on par with everyone else.
Who deserves to have a pardon or record suspension?
Only those persons with criminal records who have completed their sentence, have been of good conduct, and have generally been rehabilitated after a set period of time are able to apply for a pardon or record suspension. The government is proposing to increase the length of time someone would have to wait before they can be eligible to receive a record suspension, but I don’t necessarily agree that this would be a good thing. Making people (everyday folk who want to get on with their lives and who have already paid their debt back to society) wait a number of years before they can go with family and friends on vacation to the U.S. or get a job may not make the most sense – particularly if the crime they committed was relatively minor. We, as society, and they (as productive members of our society) want to move on with their lives. Indeed, that’s what our Charter or Rights and Freedoms says: once you’re convicted and found guilty of a crime and punished, you’re not to be punished again for the same crime. But people with criminal records are punished on a routine basis by the stigma of having a criminal record. Some deserve that stigma (because of the heinous crimes they’ve done), but others do not. It’s the latter that we as a society are concerned about.
So what will a pardon or record suspension do?
I’ve previously explained that criminal records supported by fingerprint information are held in the RCMP’s Identification data bank in Ottawa. So if you have a pardon or record suspension, then your criminal record will still exist, but it will be kept separate and apart from other criminal records. Unless the Minister of Public Safety determines otherwise (or unless your pardon ceases to have effect or is revoked), your criminal record will remain hidden from the prying eyes of potential employers, the police, court, government agencies, U.S. border patrol services, etc.