Go Ahead and Get Your Pardon
For the past few years I have been dealing with the issues surrounding life with a criminal record. I do my best to make sure people’s Pardon applications are processed as smoothly and quickly as possible, because I know that they need to move on with their lives – as quickly as possible. But every day I wonder about the millions of people who either don’t know they can apply for a pardon, or think they don’t need one!
Between 15 and 25 % of Canadian adults have been charged with a criminal offence. This translates into millions of people living with the stigma of a record – and all the problems that come with it. Imagine the entire population of Montreal or Toronto having a criminal record!
This might seem like a lot of people, but what is truly surprising to me is how many of these people do not even know they have the right – in Canada – to apply for a pardon. They know that their record is preventing them from finding a job, from moving up in the company, from getting insured, or from applying for their citizenship. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, they have no idea that a pardon for their crime(s) is even an option. Nobody has told them about the pardon program in Canada.
The pardon program is quite simple really. If you have finished your sentence and have waited 3 to 5 years after that, you are eligible to apply for your pardon. It’s that simple. Now you can’t say that nobody told you. You don’t need to be working, you don’t need a lawyer, and you don’t have to appear in court before a judge. You simply have to start the process. It is a matter of meeting the criteria set forth in the program. And if you meet the criteria and you complete the application correctly then you can get a pardon and put your criminal record behind you, which is a very nice thing to leave in the past.