Outstanding Fines & Surcharges
By now most people know that you have to pay your fine before you will be able to apply for your pardon. It’s common sense but sometimes people don’t understand that a fine is a part of your sentence. Since it is you have to pay it before the courts will consider your sentence completed.
But what about surcharges? We’ve getting a lot of people calling in to tell us that a surcharge on the fine they were never aware of is now preventing them from getting their pardon. This is all a part of the Parole Board tightening up the rules governing pardons in Canada.
In the past when a fine was more than 15 years old it was no longer necessary to provide proof of payment. But that changed when the Conservative government overhauled our criminal justice system. Now the fine has to be paid no matter how old it is. And if you only paid it today you are stuck waiting another 5 or 10 years until you will be eligible for the pardon.
It also applies to those surcharges. The Parole Board of Canada will not care at all that you paid your fine in good faith so many years ago. And the people reviewing your application will not care if you weren’t even aware that there was a surcharge to begin with. They will not care that you would have paid it is you’d only known. They will only care that your outstanding surcharge means you didn’t complete your sentence. They will then deny your application.
This is, of course, grossly unfair. It also doesn’t make any sense.
What would be fair is to require the applicant to pay the fine prior to applying for the pardon / record suspension but waive the time requirement if all other measures from the sentence were completed.
So pay your fines and keep your proof of payment. Otherwise you may find yourself out of luck when you get around to applying for your pardon.