Criminal Record Suspensions – Just the Facts Part Two – The What and Who

By 7 November 2014January 29th, 2023No Comments

In Criminal Record Suspensions – Just the Facts Part 1 we looked at the history of record suspensions from their start as part of the Criminal Records Act (CRA), when they were known as a Canadian Pardon.

From the beginning, there has always been confusion about what was meant by, first a criminal record ‘pardon’, and now a criminal ‘record suspension’. In Part 2, we’ll clear up some of the misconceptions. And we’ll start at the beginning.

What is a Record Suspension? According to the Parole Board of Canada:

A record suspension (formerly a pardon) allows people who were convicted of a criminal offence, but have completed their sentence and demonstrated they are law-abiding citizens for a prescribed number of years, to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records.”

While a criminal record still exists for anyone who receives a record suspension, being ‘kept separate and apart’ means it is not visible in background searches. That lets the record holder apply for work, find a place to live and generally go through their lives without fear that their criminal record will become an impediment.

  • The term ‘Canadian Pardon’ was changed to ‘Record Suspension’ to clarify some confusion about what is a record suspension. Many felt that a ‘pardon’ implied that those who received one were excused of their crimes.
  • A record suspension does not erase a conviction
  • Suspensions do not guarantee entry into other countries. To travel to the U.S., Canadians with a criminal record must have a U.S. Waiver.
  • Courts & Police services do not have to keep the criminal records of those with a suspension separate from other criminal records
  • Record suspensions do not cancel prohibition orders for driving or firearms
  • Not every application for a suspension is accepted
  • Record suspensions can be revoked
  • The Parole Board of Canada ‘has exclusive jurisdiction and absolute discretion to order, refuse to order or revoke a record suspension.’

Who Applies for a Record Suspension?

With some exceptions, most Canadian criminal record holders are eligible to apply for a record suspension.

  • Those convicted of Schedule 1 offences under the CRA are ineligible to apply
  • Having multiple convictions can also make you ineligible
  • 96% of applicants have received provincial sentences, including fines, restitutions, probation, suspended sentences and prison sentences up to 24 months less a day
  • 70% of applicants have never served prison time
  • 4% have received a federal prison sentence of 2 years or more

It’s impossible to clear up every bit of confusion and misconception about record suspensions in a single blog post. If you have questions, contact Pardon Applications of Canada for answers.

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