New Record Suspension Legislation Replaces Previous Pardon Legislation
A Record Suspension allows persons who were convicted of a criminal offence and who have completed their sentence, and demonstrated that they are now law-abiding individuals, to have their criminal records kept separate and apart from other criminal records. Under the Criminal Records Act, the Parole Board of Canada may grant, deny, or revoke a Record Suspension for convictions under federal statutes or regulations of Canada such as the Criminal Code of Canada. A person may apply for a Record Suspension even if the person is not a Canadian citizen or a resident of Canada.
Once a Record Suspension is granted, the record will be taken out of the Canada Police Information Centre (CPIC) and may not be disclosed without permission from the federal Minister of Public Safety. Although this applies only to criminal records kept within federal departments and agencies, many provincial and municipal law enforcement agencies also restrict access to their records once they are notified that a Record Suspension has been granted.
The Canadian Human Rights Act forbids discrimination based on a conviction for which a Record Suspension has been granted. What this means is that a federal agency cannot deny a person a service or employment on the basis of a conviction for which a Record Suspension has been granted.
The granting of a Record Suspension does not do any of the following:
1. erase the fact that a person was convicted of an offence;
2. guarantee entry to another country or the issuing of a travel visa permitting entry to another country;
3. require local police services, other than the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), to keep a record for which a Record Suspension has been granted separate and apart from other criminal records;
4. affect current practices with respect to a conviction for certain sexual offences listed in the Criminal Records Act;
5. affect any prohibition orders imposed under the Criminal Code of Canada at the time of sentencing, such as, for example, a driving prohibition order or a firearms prohibition order.
There are certain sexual offences listed in the Criminal Records Act that require the name of a person convicted of such a sexual offence to be flagged in the CPIC system even if a pardon was granted under the previous legislation. The person will be asked to disclose the record when applying for employment that will require the person to work with children or persons that are vulnerable because of their age or disability.
A person convicted of a sexual offence involving a child is not eligible for a Record Suspension (Schedule I offence under the Criminal Records Act). A person is also not eligible for a Record Suspension if the person has been convicted of more than 3 offences that were prosecuted by Indictment and for each of which the person was sentenced to imprisonment for 2 years or more.
The Completion of a Sentence
Prior to applying for a Record Suspension, the convicted person must complete all sentences that were imposed and wait for a specified time period following the completion of all the sentences.
A sentence is completed when all of the following have occurred:
1. all fines, surcharges, costs, restitution and compensation orders imposed have been paid in full;
2. all custodial sentences or conditional sentences imposed, including all periods of parole and statutory release, have been served;
3. all probation orders imposed have been satisfied.
Applicable Waiting Periods
Following the completion of a sentence, the convicted person will not be eligible to apply for a Record Suspension unless 5 years have elapsed for a summary conviction offence or 10 years have elapsed for an indictable offence.
Absolute or Conditional Discharge
A person who is granted an absolute discharge or a conditional discharge does not have to apply for a Record Suspension. An absolute discharge or a conditional discharge that was granted on or after July 24, 1992, will automatically be removed from the CPIC system 1 year (absolute discharge) or 3 years (conditional discharge) after the discharge was granted.
Denial and Revocation of a Record Suspension
A Record Suspension will be denied if the Parole Board of Canada finds that the applicant is not of “good character”. The applicant may re-apply after 1 year.
A Record Suspension may be revoked by the Parole Board of Canada if any of the following occur:
1. The recipient is subsequently found guilty of a summary conviction offence under a federal statute or regulation of Canada, such as the Criminal Code of Canada; or
2. The Parole Board of Canada determines that the person is no longer of “good conduct”; or
3. The Parole Board of Canada determines that a false or deceptive statement was made by the recipient at the time of application or if the Parole Board of Canada determines that relevant information was concealed by the recipient at the time of application.
A Record Suspension will cease to have any effect if either of the following occurs:
1. the recipient is subsequently convicted of an indictable offence, or an offence that could have been prosecuted by indictment by Crown election, under a federal act or regulation of Canada, such as the Criminal Code of Canada; or
2. the Parole Board of Canada determines, on new information, that the recipient was not eligible for a Record Suspension at the time that it was granted.
Applying for a Record Suspension
In order to apply for a Record Suspension, the applicant must obtain a Record Suspension Application Guide which will outline how to obtain required documents such as a copy of the applicant’s criminal record, local police record checks and other pertinent information.
To obtain a copy of a Record Suspension Application Guide, you may send an e-mail to [email protected] or call the Parole Board of Canada at 1-800-874-2652.