Affordable Ottawa Record Suspension Lawyers
If you’ve recently applied for a job or apartment rental in Ontario and been turned down because of your criminal record, don’t panic.
You may be able to prevent your past actions from having any further long-term negative consequences on your life.
Some people convicted of a crime many years ago are eligible for a pardon or “records suspension”.
If you can secure an Ontario pardon with the aid of one of our pardon and record suspension lawyers, you can look forward to getting your life back on track…
Learn More → How Can I Get My Criminal Charges Dropped?
What is a pardon?
A pardon removes a criminal conviction from your record and obscures it from police and public view. The record is removed from:
- All police databases
- Provincial and municipal justice agency records
- Customs and border agency records
If you secure a pardon, your conviction history is removed from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) database and the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC), which are used for background checks.
After being awarded a pardon, therefore, you should be able to apply freely for employment/ educational opportunities and travel without worrying about your past criminal record.
How does a pardon work?
Pardons in Ontario are only granted in certain circumstances. To apply for a pardon, you must have met all of the following criteria:
- Completed all sentences
- Paid all restitution and fines
- Demonstrated a law-abiding lifestyle
- Waited for the required period (see below)
What is a record suspension?
Formally called a “pardon”, a record suspension is simply the terminology used now. The procedure for obtaining a record suspension and the consequences of doing so are identical to a pardon.
So, if you were convicted of a criminal offence in the past and manage to secure a record suspension, your record will be removed from the RCMP and CPIC databases and kept separate from other criminal records.
What is a U.S. entry waiver?
Canadian citizens with criminal records may be denied entry to the U.S.
A U.S. entry waiver allows an applicant convicted of a criminal offence to travel to the U.S. without worrying about whether they will be allowed to cross the border legally.
However, such entry waivers are not easy to obtain and they are only temporary (unlike a pardon, which is permanent). The process to obtain a travel waiver can take around 8-14 months.
How long does it take to secure a pardon?
Generally speaking, it will take our Ontario pardon and record suspension lawyers between 6 and 12 months to secure a pardon if you are eligible for one.
The exact time will depend on the seriousness of the offence for which you were convicted — those with indictable offences take the longest for pardons to be processed.
We will send the pardon application to the Parole Board of Canada (PBC), which will review it and process the application.
What is the pardon application process?
Generally speaking, the following documentation is required to apply for a record suspension in Ontario:
- Your criminal record from the RCMP
- A local police check from all areas that you have lived in the past five years
- Court records confirming your charges and sentences
- Court records confirming that all fines are paid in full
- Military conduct sheet (if applicable)
- Documents to prove your identification, such as a driver’s licence or passport/immigration documents
You must also complete a record suspension application form and the measurable benefit/sustained rehabilitation form. This explains to the Parole Board of Canada how the pardon would “provide you with a measurable benefit and sustain your rehabilitation into society as a law-abiding citizen”.
What happens after a pardon is granted?
Once the PBC grants the criminal record pardon, the record is officially removed from public view, the CPIC database and is restricted in provincial and municipal agency records.
After a pardon has been granted, anyone searching the CPIC database will have no visibility of your criminal record or a record suspension. Anyone who wants to access records of convictions that have been “set aside” will need special permission from the federal government.
What costs are associated with a pardon application?
You can request a free consultation with our record suspension lawyers to discuss legal costs but there will also be some administration fees to pay for a pardon application, including:
- An application fee (currently $657.77) paid by bank draft or certified cheque payable to the Receiver General of Canada (or you can use the pre-authorized credit card payment form)
- A fingerprinting fee of approximately $50
Our legal fees will include the costs of collecting and submitting all documentation and contacting the courts and RCMP for all records and transcripts.
How do you qualify for a pardon?
To qualify for a pardon, you must have completed your entire sentence, paid your fines/restitution/compensation orders, and completed probation (if applicable). You must also demonstrate that you have been a law-abiding citizen for a specific number of years.
The waiting periods are as follows:
- 5 years for summary offences
- 10 years for indictable offences
Once you are eligible according to these criteria, you can apply for a record suspension in Ontario.
How to know if you are eligible
You can apply for a record suspension if you were:
- convicted of an offence in Canada,
- under a Canadian federal act or regulation
- or convicted of an offence in another country
- and transferred to Canada
Certain convictions are ineligible for pardons. You will not be eligible for a record suspension if:
- You have been convicted of more than three offences where you were prosecuted by indictment, each with a prison sentence of two years or more, or
- You were convicted of a Schedule 1 Offence under the Criminal Code
Schedule 1 offences include sexual offences involving a child. Only those who have completed a Schedule 1 exceptions form and had it approved may be eligible for a pardon.
Do you need a lawyer for a pardon application?
While there is no requirement to hire a lawyer or other representative to apply for a record suspension, few people attempt the process without some form of legal assistance.
To give yourself the best possible chance of success with your application for a pardon, speak to one of our record suspension lawyers in Ottawa during a free consultation.