If you’re looking to apply for a Canadian pardon in the near future but you’re not eligible to start the formal application process yet, it’s still a good idea to start collecting the necessary paperwork before your eligibility date. It can take up to 10 months to gather everything you need for a successful application and an additional 10-18 months of processing.
After your sentence has been completed, there is a generally a waiting period before you can apply for a Canadian pardon (for discharges, the waiting period begins from the court date). It’s important to note that waiting periods are non-negotiable. The exact length of waiting periods varies. In some cases there is no waiting period –such as in the case of not being found guilty, while others can extend up to 10 years for indictable convictions. A summary offence carries a 5 year wait period. During this time, you cannot apply for a pardon formally but you can begin to gather the information needed for an application.
Exception: You will never be eligible to apply for a pardon / record suspension if you were charged with the following:
- a Schedule 1 Offence (offence involving a child) under the Criminal Records Act;
- more than three (3) offences prosecuted by indictment each with a prison sentence of two (2) years or more.
Benefits of Starting Early
By starting early, you will be able to:
- Calculate your exact eligibility date if it is unknown
- Have reference letters provided to employers, Canadian immigration, and other relevant institutions to prove your pardon / record suspension is under way
- Obtain and sort out the necessary court documents
- Find out if your file was transferred to the RCMP
Being prepared in advance with the proper documentation will ensure that you have the right documents for the specific legal process outlined out by the Criminal Records Act.
If any of these steps are completed incorrectly or within the wrong timeline, your application could be delayed. A qualified Canadian pardons expert can help guide you through this process.
Starting early is also a way to ensure that if for any reason there are any errors or complications with your file, they can be identified and remedied well in advance before your formal application. It can also identify any opportunities to expedite the process beforehand.
Once your application has been completed it is ready to be submitted to the Canadian government for an independent review and final decision.
It is important to realize that some external factors can come into play that can lengthen processing timelines. These can include:
- Court and police response times
- Delay in completing finger prints
- The accuracy and completeness of your application
Obtaining a Canadian pardon is an important step towards re-integration into society following the completion of a criminal sentence. While there is generally a waiting period involved before you can apply for a pardon, it can be to your advantage to start the process of gathering documents and determining eligibility as early as possible.