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.