We’re often asked about the fastest way to get a pardon / record suspension which is understandable because most people want a clear criminal record as quickly as possible.
Since we pride ourselves on being honest – and providing you only with information that is accurate and in your best interest – here is the simple, honest truth about the fastest way to get a pardon: there is none.
Depending on the specifics of your situation it can take 4 to 6 months to prepare the application and anywhere from 4 to 24 months for the Parole Board to process it and render a decision. We can provide individual applicants with an estimate, based on our experience and on current waiting times, but it will always be a rough approximation because the process is unpredictable.
So why does it take so long? And why do some applications take longer than others?
First of all, even the most basic application requires information from the RCMP, the courts and a local police service. Some applications require other information from other sources, bet let’s focus on the essentials. Let’s take the example of someone with a simple record, just one DUI. We’ll call him Chuck.
First, Chuck needs to get an RCMP report for a record suspension application. The RCMP says it can take four months to process a request and send it out. Although some reports arrive in a month or two, Chuck needs to be prepared to wait the full four months because there’s no way of expediting the process or knowing exactly how long it’s going to take.
Second, Chuck needs to get information from the court he was convicted in. Sometimes it’s possible to request information from the courts without waiting for the RCMP report to arrive. But this depends on where the conviction took place, the policies at the individual courthouse, and what information the applicant already has. Either way, courts normally take about a month, sometimes more, to provide the necessary information.
Finally, Chuck needs to get a Local Police Records Check from his local police department. This is a special check required for all pardon applications. If Chuck had lived in more than one jurisdiction in the past five years, he’ll need to get a check from each location he’s lived in. Most police departments will take about two or three weeks to provide the local police records check (LPC), but a small number will do it on the spot. At the other extreme, some police services, especially in large cities, can take months to perform the check. We’ve even had situations where the person in charge of this process goes on leave or vacation, bringing the requests to a complete stop. It’s rare, but it happens. Regardless, there’s no way to speed up this process,
Now that Chuck has completed his application, he can submit it to the Parole Board of Canada. We’re often asked if there’s an expedited service at the Parole Board or if there’s some way to speed things up, but again the answer is no.
For the past few years, the Parole Board has stated that they will process applications involving summary convictions “within six months” and those involving indictable convictions “within twelve months.” This is because indictable convictions involve more serious offences and the Parole Board needs to conduct a more thorough investigation and evaluate these applications using more detailed criteria. Although some applications happen to be processed very quickly, it is unusual for it to take less than four months for summary convictions or less than eight months for indictable.
Chuck’s DUI is almost certainly a summary conviction, so he can expect to hear from the Parole Board in six months or less. If everything has gone smoothly, it will have taken Chuck about five or six months to get his pardon application ready and about four to six months for the Parole Board to review his case and grant his pardon.
Of course things don’t always go smoothly, especially when it comes to large government bureaucracies. For example, it’s fairly common for some courts to take much, much longer than expected. Most often this is because they are simply inefficient or under-resourced. To make matters worse, these courts are often the most likely to make mistakes, which lead to further delays.
Further, if the Board is proposing to refuse a pardon it can take up to 24 months which is a long time to wait indeed. This normally occurs when the applicant has been involved with the police since their last conviction. The Board will then ask the applicant to provide additional information about their conduct before they render a final decision. Again, this is unpredictable because the applicant may not be aware that contact with the police is a cause for concern and, if they were under investigation for a crime but never questioned or arrested, the applicant may not even be aware that they came to the attention of the police.
People often think that getting a pardon will be quicker for minor offences or that it will take longer to get a pardon for a large number of convictions than for just one or two. But in reality it’s difficult to estimate how long the process will take in advance, regardless of whether the applicant has a summary or an indictable offence or whether there is only one conviction or many. There are just so many different factors involved.