Purge and File Destruction
The systems in place for processing pardons in Canada can get extremely complicated when you started dealing with different court outcomes. For example, if you have ever gone to court but were found not-guilty then logic would suggest you do not have a criminal record and do not require a pardon. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
When you are found not guilty it is true that you do not require a pardon. But there is definitely a record of criminal activity that you will want to take care of because you cannot count on the system to do it for you. The fact is that when you were arrested the police took your fingerprints. And when you went to court the clerks, prosecutors, judge, etc. all generated documents with your name on them. And finally your name will also appear on the restricted distribution section of CPIC. All of these cases are examples of a criminal record but none will be taken care of by a pardon application because you can only apply for a pardon if you were guilty.
The logic of this system appears to be out of whack because if you were found guilty you can have your criminal record removed. But if you were dragged through the court system for no good reason, you cannot.
Fortunately it only appears that the system works this way. Because if you were found not guilty in court you can apply for what is called a purge and file destruction and, if done correctly, it will essentially destroy all traces of the arrest(s) in question. It is simply a different set of paperwork for dealing with a criminal record. Instead of dealing with the National Parole Board we deal directly with the various courts and police stations involved in the arrest, all of which have their own specific rules and policies governing the retention / destruction of these documents.
If you were found not guilty in court please do not assume that you do not have a criminal record because you do. It may not be your standard, everyday, run-of-the-mill criminal record but it is a criminal record nonetheless and it can mess up your life in all the same ways that a guilty verdict criminal record can.
It might not be fair that you have to apply to get rid of a not guilty verdict but in comparison to some of the legal systems around the world Canada’s is surprisingly humane and just.
Not guilty is not guilty but let’s face it; people will still raise an eyebrow if they see you were arrested at all. So take advantage of the fact that in Canada you can have the records destroyed and get yourself a purge and file destruction. It is definitely worth the effort.