The Importance of Record Suspensions in Criminal Rehabilitation
by Joel LaForest, Research Analyst with Pardon Applications of Canada
Although the judicial system isn’t perfect, the truth is that crime and punishment in Canada have come a long way since the days of capital and corporal punishment.
In fact, today, legislators are continuously working to ensure that the system is fair and equitable for all those convicted of a crime in Canada, no matter how serious they may be.
But aside from fair and equitable treatment, the Canadian judicial system also allows for Record Suspensions, which, essentially, eliminate an individual’s criminal record from being visible during criminal background checks with the RCMP.
Let’s review the judicial process to illustrate the importance of Record Suspensions in Canada as the crucial and final step in reforming law-abiding citizens.
Arrest and Formal Charges
When the police believe there are probable and reasonable grounds to charge a person with a criminal offense, they have the right to place that person under arrest by detaining them and placing them in handcuffs.
When arrested, the person in question will be taken into police custody and likely brought down to the local police station to receive formal charges.
Depending on the nature of the crime, and whether the police believe they are a threat to public safety, the individual may be released to await their trial. Or, in cases where a more serious, violent or sexual crime has been committed, the individual may be held in police custody until the time of their trial.
Trial and Conviction
During the trial, the lead prosecutor will present any evidence and information surrounding the case to prove the accused’s culpability. This may be in the form of physical evidence, DNA evidence, audio recordings, videos, witness testimony, etc.
Once this information has been presented, the accused’s defense attorney will have the chance to cross-examine it and any witnesses presented by the prosecutor.
Depending on the type and severity of the crime, a criminal case may be heard by either a judge and jury or a judge alone. Generally, minor crimes are overseen by a sole judge. Whereas more severe crimes are typically overseen by a judge and jury of up to 12 peers.
After deliberating on the evidence presented during the trial, the judge and jury will either convict or acquit the accused of their charges.
If convicted, an appropriate sentence will be given according to the Criminal Code of Canada, ranging in severity from community service and probationary periods to hefty fines and prison time.
Only once a person has completed their sentence will they be released back into Canadian society.
However, a record of their criminal conviction will always be kept on file by the RCMP, visible to anyone performing a criminal background check.
Record Suspensions – The Final Step
After an individual has been charged, convicted, and has completed their sentence, they are free to move on with their life.
However, they’ll still have to carry around their criminal history in the form of a criminal record, which, unfortunately, often leads to difficulties obtaining employment, seeking financing, and traveling to the United States.
Fortunately, those who’ve completed their criminal sentencing and have abided by the appropriate mandatory waiting period, a Record Suspension may be obtained.
According to the Criminal Records Act, a Record Suspension prevents individuals from being discriminated against based on their criminal past. Essentially, once a Record Suspension has been granted, an individual’s criminal record will be sealed and is no longer be visible during criminal record checks.
Applying for a Canadian Record Suspension can be a crucial step in the criminal rehabilitation process, giving Canadians and residents a second chance a moving forward as a law-abiding member of society.
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About the Author
Joel LaForest is a Research Analyst with Pardon Applications of Canada and the owner of The Hobo Marketing Co., specializing in writing about law, finance, health, and wealth.