Amendments to the Criminal Records Act (CRA) came into effect on March 13, 2012, resulting in changes to the pardon program’s name, eligibility requirements, and waiting periods, as follows:
The term “pardon” has been replaced with the term “record suspension”;
The waiting period for a record suspension has increased to 5 years for all summary conviction offences and to 10 years for all indictable offences;
Individuals convicted of sexual offences against minors (with certain exceptions) and those who have been convicted of more than three indictable offences, each with a sentence of two or more years, are now ineligible for a record suspension.
(Above taken from the Parole Board of Canada Website)
Many people are under the assumption that if you obtain a record suspension (formerly pardon) that you are able to freely cross borders, especially the United States border, and not have to declare that you have had a criminal record. This is not the case as many have found to their detriment.
A record suspension allows people to have their criminal record set aside within Canada federally to assist that person in obtaining employment or educational opportunities. Provincial and municipal criminal justice counterparts will generally restrict access to their records once they are made aware that a record suspension has been ordered.
It is, however, limited in that it does not erase the conviction, it only sets it aside. Should you re-offend in the future, and be convicted of similar or new offences, the record suspension can and will probably be rescinded and your prior record will be reinstated.
A record suspension does not guarantee you entry or visa privileges into another country. If travelling to the US, it is always prudent to carry the record suspension documentation with you. It does NOT, however, mean that the border agents will recognize it as such and you may be refused entry. If this occurs you will be required to obtain a waiver (in the US) or similar documentation from the country you are trying to enter before you will be allowed entry into that country.
Record suspensions allowed to former sexual offenders are flagged in CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre) in order to conduct a vulnerable sector check should they apply to work or volunteer in such a sector.
Record suspensions, once accepted by the Parole Board of Canada, will take approximately six months for summary charges; twelve months for indictable charges; and twenty four months should they be considering refusing the application.
You do not need to apply for a record suspension if your charges were, dismissed, stayed, withdrawn, or you received either an absolute discharge or conditional discharge. Other remedies are available to expunge your record in these circumstances.
Contact us to assist in obtaining a record suspension or waiver to assist with entry into the United States.