What are Pardons?
If you’re looking to get a Canadian pardon, there are a few things you should know. In Canada, pardons are not a form of forgiveness. Furthermore, the granting of a pardon does not imply that the crime did not occur or that the accused was wrongly convicted. Rather, pardons are recognition that the recipients have been of good conduct and that previous criminal history should no longer reflect negatively on them.
By seeking a Canadian pardon application you are indicating that criminal behaviour is no longer a part of your life. By receiving a pardon you are given the chance to have your criminal record set apart from active criminal records.
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What are record suspensions?
In March 2012 the Conservative government of Canada passed its omnibus crime bill, Bill C-10, which subtly affects pardons in Canada. Part of this legislation changed the term “pardon” to “record suspension.” While many people are now searching for “record suspension” instead of “pardons Canada,” it is important to understand that a pardon and a record suspension have the exact same effect.
The new legislation included some procedural changes and some program eligibility requirements. But as long as you are still able to apply for a record suspension, the result will be the same as pardons in Canada.
NOTE: For the purpose of clarity we will continue using only the word pardon as though a pardon and a record suspension are interchangeable.
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How to apply for a pardon
Pardons in Canada are granted by the Parole Board of Canada. You must complete your sentence then meet specific eligibility criteria. Once you have determined that you meet the standards set by the Parole Board you must prepare the application. There are three ways to do this.
- Do it yourself: The Parole Board of Canada makes it very clear that you are able to process a pardon application on your own. The only step you cannot do yourself is fingerprinting. You will require a third party accredited agency to handle that step for you. We are an RCMP accredited agency that can provide this service for you.
If you want to attempt to handle these procedures on your own, download the record suspension application instructions. Be warned that it is 28 pages consisting of the kind of instructions that government bureaucracies are known for.
Pardon Application Forms:
- Hire a lawyer: Hiring a lawyer is an option that some people choose. While a law degree is certainly not required to process pardons Canada applications, extensive knowledge of the law probably can’t hurt.
The key to remember when discussing your options with a lawyer is that lawyers will charge an hourly wage. We have heard of people being charged up to $10,000 for a lawyer to prepare a pardon application. This is a cost we feel is grossly disproportionate to the service provided.
- Hire a pardon services agency like the National Pardon Centre: If you do not want to prepare your own documentation and you do not want to spend the money required to hire a lawyer you can request the services of a Canadian pardon service provider.
We have been preparing pardon applications since 2002 and we honestly believe we provide the best service in the business.
Since a Canadian pardon can take up to two years to complete it is a very good investment to hire a professional to handle the procedures for you. But be careful. Not all pardon and waiver companies are created equally.
For more information on this problem see our blog:
Pardon / Record Suspension Service Providers
If you are looking for a company you can trust to process your Canadian pardon application correctly, please give us a call or get started right away by calling or applying online.
Note that consultation / evaluation services are free of charge and you can relax knowing that you will not be speaking to a pushy sales agent. You will be speaking to a highly trained pardon and waiver specialist who will give you honest, up to date advice that is in your best interest.
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Pardons Canada eligibility rules – summary and indictable offences
Applicants for the Canadian pardon program must meet specific eligibility requirements that are dependent on the status of the sentence that was given in court. To become eligible the sentence must be complete and a waiting period must be met in which the applicant has been of “good conduct”.
The standard for judging conduct is somewhat subjective but it is essential that there has been no involvement whatsoever with the law. For example, if you have been charged with a crime but found not guilty in court, the Parole Board can use that charge to show that the good conduct clause has not been met.
Furthermore, even if you have only been questioned by the police it can be enough reason for the Parole Board to assume that you have not been of conduct. If that happens, the Board will most likely refuse to grant your pardon.
Pardons eligibility – waiting periods
Once you have completed your sentence the waiting periods to become eligible for a pardon are as follows:
Summary offences: 5 years
Indictable offences: 10 years
Keep in mind that it is advisable to begin your pardon application or your purge and file destruction at least 1 year in advance of becoming eligible if you want your criminal record to be sealed as soon as possible. The 5 and 10 year criteria for pardon eligibility is a result of the Conservative government of Canada’s tough on crime legislation (Bill C-10) which significantly increased the waiting periods for eligibility.
Pardon eligibility – history
Before the passage of bill C-10 eligibility for a pardon was as follows:
Summary Offences: 3 years
Indictable Offences: 5 years
Criminal record removal for non-convictions
Any arrest or court appearance will result in a criminal record regardless of whether the accused was found guilty or not. The only difference is the type of record, when and where it will show and how to remove.
For court appearances which did not result in a conviction there are certain waiting periods that must be met before the files can be destroyed.
Absolute Discharge: 1 year
Conditional Discharge: 3 years
For not guilty outcomes varying time frames exist before the records can be destroyed.
Not Guilty Outcomes: normally within 1 year
Time require to prepare and submit a pardon to the Parole Board of Canada
It is important to know that it is not possible to guarantee the amount of time it will take to complete your pardon. Most of the time required is based on the eligibility rules listed above. However, assuming that you are already eligible it will still take time to process the documentation, submit it to the Parole Board, and then wait for a response. Any company claiming otherwise should be avoided.
That being said a qualified pardon services provider should be able to provide a good estimate based on previous experience.
Current time frames:
Average time = 12 months
Keep in mind that indictable offences will normally increase the amount of time the Parole Board requires to review your case. Furthermore some police stations and court houses are slower to respond to document requests that others.
Steps involved in processing a pardons Canada application
The following is a complete list of the steps involved in preparing a pardon application in Canada to submit to the Parole Board.
- Get your Convictions, Conditional and Absolute Discharges form (Criminal Record) from the RCMP in Ottawa and, if required, your proof of conviction documents.
- Get your Court Information.
- Get your Military Conduct Sheet (current and former members of the Canadian Forces only).
- Get your Local Police Records Check(s).
- Get your Proof of Citizenship or Immigration Documents.
- Get a Photocopy of your Document to Support your Identification.
- Fill in the Schedule 1 Exception Form.
- Fill in the Record Suspension Application Form.
- Fill in the Measurable Benefit/Sustained Rehabilitation Form.
- Complete the Checklist and mail your application and documents with the $631.00 (CDN) processing fee.
Costs involved in getting a pardon
There are several fees involved when completing the steps above. So please be advised that it is impossible to apply for a pardon in Canada without incurring a cost. If you are hiring an agency or a lawyer there will also be an additional service fee. The fee listed in the final step of the pardon processing list is only the FINAL fee payable to the Parole Board of Canada and does not include any disbursement or service fees payable to the agencies involved in gathering the required documents.
- Step 1. Fingerprinting is approximately $85 and includes a $25 service fee payable to the RCMP.
- Step 2. Court document requests will vary depending on what court house you are dealing with. The cost is anywhere from $0 – $20 (per document request).
- Step 4. Local Police Records Checks are $25 – $130 (per location you have lived in the past 5 years).
- Step 10. Submission fee to the Parole Board of Canada is $631.
Results / effects of Canada pardons
Once your pardon has been granted the record is sealed and kept separate from active criminal records. When you do a criminal records search the results will be the same as if you have never had any trouble with the law. However, it is important to note that a pardon can be revoked if, for example, you have further trouble with the law.
From another point of view the results of a pardon can have dramatic effects. Our clients often report an increase in quality of life following the granting of a pardon and the removal of a criminal record. In addition barriers to immigration, travel, volunteering and more will be removed.
Being granted a pardon will provide an increase in self confidence, peace of mind and the ability to apply for work and career opportunities knowing that a criminal record will not hold you back.
For information on how a pardon will affect your ability to travel see below:
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Getting your pardons Canada application process started
Getting a pardon application going with us is easy. Just choose the option that’s most convenient for you and let us take care of this important step. We are happy to help.
For more information Pardons in Canada: