A Record Suspension (former Pardon) is the forgiveness of a crime and the cancellation of the relevant penalty; it is usually granted by a head of state (such as a monarch or president) or by a competent authority. A record suspension allows people who were convicted of a criminal offence, but have completed their sentence and demonstrated they are law-abiding citizens for a prescribed number of years, to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records.
Notice of Changes to the Pardon’s Program under Bill C-10
Bill C-10, known as the Safe Streets and Communities Act, received Royal Assent on March 13, 2012. Changes to the Criminal Records Act (CRA) under Bill C-10 have now come into effect, resulting in changes to the Pardon program’s name, eligibility requirements, and waiting periods, as follows:
- The term “pardon” is replaced with the term “record suspension”;
- The waiting period for a record suspension has increased to 5 years for all summary conviction offences and to 10 years for all indictable offences;
- Individuals convicted of sexual offences against minors (with certain exceptions) and those who have been convicted of more than three indictable offences, each with a sentence of two or more years, are now ineligible for a record suspension.
IMPORTANT: Applications received on or before March 12, 2012, will be accepted for processing under the former CRA, as long as they are deemed to be eligible and complete by the PBC at the time of receipt. All applications received as of March 13, 2012, are subject to the requirements under the new CRA.
Pardon applications received on or before March 12, 2012, deemed to be eligible and complete, and accepted for processing, will be processed as “pardon” applications under the previous CRA.
All applications received as of March 13, 2012, deemed to be eligible and complete, and accepted for processing, will be processed as a “record suspension” under the new CRA.
Important Notice to Record Suspension Applicants: USER FEE INCREASE
The user fee for the processing of a record suspension (formerly a pardon) application has increased to $631 as of February 23, 2012. Applications received or post-marked on or before February 22, 2012 will be accepted under the former $150 application fee as long as they are deemed to be eligible and complete by the PBC at the time of receipt.
Ineligible and incomplete applications will be returned to the applicant along with their $150 application fee. These applications will become subject to the new fee as of February 23, 2012.
The increase to the user fee follows through on the Government’s plan to implement a new fee system that requires users to assume the cost of processing a record suspension application.
The new fee will provide the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) with the additional capacity to manage its workloads, and to address operational requirements as a result of changes to the Criminal Records Act (CRA). It will ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of the Record Suspensions program, and that the Parole Board can continue to meet its important public safety mandate.
For more information, or assistance with their application, record suspension applicants may contact:
Mail:Parole Board of Canada Attention: Record Suspension Division 410 Laurier Avenue West Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R1 PBC information line: 1-800-874-2652 (toll-free) Record Suspension enquiries email: email@example.com
A record suspension is evidence that the conviction should no longer reflect negatively on a person’s character. In support of this statement, the Criminal Records Act restricts access to records under federal jurisdiction and removes any disqualifications that would result from a conviction. With regards to employment, the CRA specifies that information about pardoned offences shall not be sought in the employment applications of organizations under federal jurisdiction. In addition, the Canadian Human Rights Act forbids federal agencies and departments to discriminate against an individual based on a suspended record.
A pardon keeps a judicial record of a conviction separate and apart from other criminal records, and gives law abiding citizens an opportunity to reintegrate into Canadian society. The CRA removes all information about the conviction for which an individual received the record suspension from the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). Federal agencies cannot give out information about the conviction without approval from the Minister of Public Safety Canada. A pardon does not, however, erase the fact that an individual was convicted of a crime. The criminal record is not erased, but it is kept separate and apart from other (non-pardoned) criminal records.
If an individual in receipt of a record suspension is convicted of a new offence, the information may lead to a reactivation of the criminal record for which the record suspension was received in the Canadian Police Information Centre.
The Reasons to Ask for a record suspension
Actually, in some situations it is of vital importance for an individual not to have a criminal record. A person who has a criminal record will not be eligible to become a Canadian citizen or to have the ability to contract with the federal government. Some professions (for example, lawyers, paralegals, school teaches, army men and others) require that a person must not have a criminal record. Individuals with a criminal record are often at a serious disadvantage when competing for employment, job promotion, volunteer work, getting bonded, apartment rental, child custody, adoption, mortgage approval and educational opportunities. A criminal record also impedes foreign travel, including travel to the U.S. A record suspension removes disqualifications caused by a criminal conviction. Once obtaining a record suspension, all information pertaining to convictions will be taken out of the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC).
Parole Board of Canada
The Parole Board of Canada (PBC) is the federal agency responsible for making pardon decisions under the Criminal Records Act (CRA).The Parole Board of Canada, as part of the criminal justice system, may grant, deny, or revoke pardons for convictions under federal acts or regulations of Canada. The Board verifies each pardon application to see what type of offences were committed and thereby determines if the applicant must wait three, five or ten years before applying for a pardon. A record suspension application that is not eligible is returned to the applicant.
The applicant is responsible for obtaining documentation and providing to the Board adequate, reliable, relevant and verifiable information which demonstrates good conduct. Good conduct is defined as behaviour that is consistent with and demonstrates a law-abiding lifestyle. In instances where the applicant did not reside in Canada during that time period, international documents must be obtained (i.e. an attestation of their good conduct from law enforcement where they resided). The type of documents and information that may be considered includes:
- information about an incident that resulted in a charge that was subsequently withdrawn, stayed, or dismissed, or that resulted in a peace bond, in the use of alternative measures or in the acquittal of the applicant;
- any record of absolute or conditional discharges;
- information about convictions under provincial, territorial and federal statutes;
- exchange of relevant personal information with justice system participants as defined in the Criminal Code about suspected or alleged criminal behaviour;
- representations provided by, or on behalf of, the applicant;
- any information submitted to the Board by others, such as victims, with knowledge of the case;
- with respect to applicants convicted of a sex offence, any information received from law enforcement agencies further to enquiries made by the Board.
In cases where the eligibility period to apply for a pardon is five or ten years, the applicant is responsible for demonstrating to the Board that the pardon would provide them with a measurable benefit and would sustain his or her rehabilitation in society as a law-abiding citizen. Some examples of how the applicant may demonstrate this include:
- obtaining employment;
- obtaining residence/ improving their living conditions;
- obtaining an education;
- removing stigma/ changing others perceptions;
- social and/or personal improvement;
- financial stability.
- making a positive contribution to society;
- having a lifestyle that is no longer associated with criminal behaviour;
- taking responsibility for offences and sentences;
- taking steps to ensure there is no risk of recidivism;
- identifying a support system;
- identifying pro social relationships and social networks.
You do not need to apply for a pardon if charges against you were dismissed, stayed or withdrawn, or did not result in a conviction. If charges did not result in a conviction, but your record is on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) system you may contact the arresting police force and ask them to request that the RCMP return your fingerprints and all information taken at the time of arrest for destruction. However, the police forces may choose to deny this request.
Retention and Destruction of Non-Conviction Information – Adults
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has introduced a new Policy for the Retention and Destruction of Non-Conviction Information – Adults which outlines the criteria used by the RCMP to determine whether non-conviction information contained in the National Repository of Criminal Records is retained or destroyed. “Non-conviction information” refers to criminal charges with court decisions other than “guilty”. These decisions include acquittals, withdrawals, stays of proceedings, peace bonds, and findings of “not guilty”.
Timeframes for Record Suspension Processing
Processing of pardons by the National Parole Board generally takes on average 60 days for a summary offence and 180 days for an indictable offence.
Applying for a Record Suspension
To apply for a Record Suspension you need to obtain a “Record Suspension Application Guide” from the National Parole Board (NPB). The Application Guides are also available from the National Parole Board website (http://www.npb-cnlc.gc.ca/), NPB Regional Offices, RCMP offices, Provincial and Municipal Police Offices, and the Courts of Justice.
A lawyer or other representative is not necessary
To obtain the NPB booklet or for additional information, contact:National Parole Board 410 Laurier Avenue West Ottawa ON K1A 0R1 Telephone: 1-800-874-2652 Fax (613) 941-4981 http://www.npb-cnlc.gc.ca/
9 Steps to Apply for a Record Suspension
If you have completed all of your sentences and it is past the waiting period, you can apply for a Record Suspension. Here are the 9 steps to follow and the pages where you can find instructions on how to do each step:
Get your Convictions, Conditional and Absolute Discharges form (Criminal Record) from the RCMP in Ottawa and, if required, your Proof of Conviction documents.
Contact your local Police Service to have your fingerprints taken on a Fingerprint Form. The Fingerprint Form must clearly show that you are applying for a Pardon.
Send the Fingerprint Form and a certified cheque, money order or bank draft for $25.00 (CDN) payable to the Receiver General for Canada to this address:RCMP, Civil Fingerprint Screening Service P.O. Box 8885, Ottawa, Ontario, K1G 3M8 For inquiries visit www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca or call (613) 998-6362
Wait to receive your Criminal Record (Criminal Convictions, Conditional and Absolute Discharges form) or a Certification of No Criminal Record from the RCMP. The Parole Board of Canada will accept either one.
You must get a Proof of Conviction for each conviction missing from your Criminal Record, or for “no record”. Contact the court that heard your case and/or the Police Service that arrested you to get this. The Proof of Conviction must include:
- Date: the date and court where you were sentenced
- Offence: the offence that resulted in your conviction
- Sentence: the sentence you received
- Arresting Police Force
If the Court and/or Police Service do not have a record of your conviction(s), request this in writing, and contact the Parole Board of Canada
Check your Criminal Record carefully to make sure all of your convictions are on it. You are responsible to ensure that all of your convictions are submitted to the PBC.
Get your Court Information, if required, using the form at the back of this Guide.
You will need additional court information if you do not already have proof of payment for all fines, victim surcharges, restitution, and compensation, as well as the final payment date. Also, the method of trial for each conviction (summary or indictable) is what determines eligibility (3, 5 or 10 years) as well as how the pardon request is processed. This information must be provided or the file will be considered according to the longest waiting period applicable for that specific offence.
Fill in questions 1 to 6 on the Court Information Form at the back of this Guide. Make copies of the form first in case you need to give it to more than one Court.
Contact the Court that heard your case.
If you were sentenced in more than one Court, you must contact each Court and have them fill in this form. Give each Court a photocopy of your Criminal Record and ask each Court to fill in the section on the Court Information Form called “For Court Use Only”.
Make sure that each Court:
- Fills in all information in the “For Court Use Only” section of the form
- Signs and dates the form
- Puts their official Court seal or stamp on the form
- Gives you 2 copies of all your Court documents so you have an extra copy for yourself, in case you need these in the future (example: to enter a foreign country). It’s easier to get a copy now as the record may not be available if a pardon is granted.
Compare the information from the Court on the Court Information Form with your Criminal Record and check for the following:
- If there is a discrepancy with the information on the Court Form and Criminal Record, or if the Court has a Record of Conviction that does not appear on your Criminal Record, you must ask the Court for a Proof of Conviction.
Get your Military Conduct Sheet (current and former members of the Canadian Forces only).
Get your Military Conduct Sheet (current and former members of the Canadian Forces only)
IF YOU ARE NOT a current or past member of the Canadian Forces, go to STEP 4
IF YOU ARE a current or past member of the Canadian Forces (Regular or Reserve) you must get a certified, signed and dated copy of your Military Conduct Sheet by contacting the appropriate organization below if no conduct sheet exists you must provide a letter from your Commanding Officer..
If you left less than 5 years ago, get it from the DMCARM:DMCARM 101 Colonel By Drive Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K2
If you left more than 5 years ago, get it from the Personnel Records Unit:Personnel Records Unit National Archives of Canada 395 Wellington Street Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N3
If you left less than 3 years ago, get it from your Commanding Officer of your last posting or Unit.
If you left more than 3 years ago, get it from the Personnel Records Unit:Personnel Records Unit National Archives of Canada 395 Wellington Street Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N3
Include all correspondence from your Commanding Officer, National Defence or National Archives with your application.
For current members, your Military Conduct Sheet should be certified, signed and dated by your Commanding Officer, and is only valid for 6 months from the date of issue.
Make sure that your request for your Military Conduct sheet includes the following information:
- Shows that the reason for the request is for a Pardon Application;
- Your first and last name. (If it has since changed, it must state your name at the time);
- Your date of birth
- Your military Identification Number or Service Number
- Your signature
- Enlistment and discharge dates.
Get your Local Police Records Check(s) using the form at the back of this Guide.
You must get a Local Police Records Check for:
- The city or town where you live now (your current address) AND
- For each city or town where you have lived during the last 5 years (if you lived in that city or town for 3 months or more).
Each Local Police Records Check is only valid for 6 months from the date it was issued.
Here is how to get a Local Police Records Check
Fill in ALL questions on page 1 of the Local Police Records Check Form included at the back of this Guide. Photocopy it for each local Police Service that you need to contact.
Contact the local Police Service for the address where you live right now. In the past 5 years, if you have lived at addresses that are different from where you live right now, you must contact each local Police Service for each address where you lived. If you are not sure which Police Service to contact, ask the one where you live now.
If you lived outside of Canada you still need to contact the local Police Service where you lived outside of Canada. If the Police Service outside Canada will not give you a Local Police Records Check, a signed letter from the Police Service stating that you have been of good conduct will be accepted. If it is in a foreign language, you must have it translated into English or French and submit both the original and the translated version with your application form.
Show each local Police Service your Criminal Record and ask them to fill in the section on the Local Police Records Check Form called “For Police Use Only” on page 2 of the form.
You will need to show 1 current piece of photograph identification and 1 other piece of identification (contact the Local Police Service in advance to find out what types of identification they will accept).
Make sure each Police Service includes the following information on each Local Police Records Check Form or the Parole Board of Canada will return it to you:
- All information required in the ‘For Police Use Only’ section that is on page 2 of the form
- Signature and date by the local Police Service
- Local Police Service official seal or stamp
Get your Proof of Citizenship or Immigration Documents (if born outside of Canada).
If YOU were born IN Canada OR are NOT currently living in Canada, you do not need to get Proof of Citizenship or immigration documents. Go to STEP 6.
If you were born outside of Canada AND you are currently living in Canada, you must include a photocopy of your official and valid immigration documents with your Pardon Application.
If you are in Canada with no immigration status, you must confirm this by providing a photocopy of an official document with your Pardon Application.
IMPORTANT! Expired documents are not accepted
If your documents expire while the Parole Board of Canada is processing your Pardon Application, you must provide an updated, valid photocopy, or your Pardon Application will be delayed.
DO NOT send original immigration documents, only SEND photocopies of immigration documents.
Get a Photocopy of your Document to Support your Identification.
To apply for a pardon, you must submit with your application form, a clear photocopy of a document which supports your identity. This government issued (Federal, Provincial or Municipal) document must have your name, date of birth and signature.
Fill in the Record Suspension Application Form at the back of the Guide (answer all questions).
TO APPLY for a Pardon you must use the Pardon Application Form at the back of this Guide.
IMPORTANT: The Record Suspension Application Form is only valid for 6 months from the date you sign it.
Fill in ALL questions in the Record Suspension Application Form.
If you do not fill in all of the questions on both page 1 and 2 of the form, the Parole Board of Canada will return the application and all documents back to you. Print in BLOCK letters using blue or black ink only.
If you don’t have enough room to include all the requested information, please attach additional pages to the form with the information on it.
Make sure to include the $631.00 (CDN) Pardon Application Processing Fee in a certified cheque, money order or bank draft payable to the Receiver General for Canada. The Parole Board of Canada will not accept a personal cheque. Do not send cash.
IMPORTANT! Before you mail your Record Suspension Application make sure that you have:
- Filled in all questions on both sides of the form
- Answered all questions truthfully and completely
- Signed and dated the form. As the applicant, the form must be signed by you
- Included the $631.00 (CDN) Pardon Application Fee (payable to the Receiver General for Canada)
- Photocopied all of your Pardon Application documents for your own records and future reference.
If you change your address…
IMPORTANT: The Parole Board of Canada must be able to contact you directly. If you are unable to be contacted and/or the information or documents you provide are not verifiable, your application may not be processed. If your mailing address changes after you submit your application, you must send the Parole Board of Canada a letter with your new mailing address. Make sure the letter includes:
- Your name
- Your Pardon Application Personal Reference Number
- Your new mailing address
- Your signature. As the Applicant, the letter must be signed by you.
Send the letter to:Parole Board of Canada Clemency and Pardons Division 410 Laurier Avenue West, 5th Floor Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R1
Even after you receive a pardon, you must advise PBC of a change of address.
Attach the Additional Information Required where you describe why you are applying for a pardon.
As per section 4.1 of the Criminal Records Act (CRA), you must clearly demonstrate how receiving a pardon would provide you with a measurable benefit. You must also describe how it would sustain your rehabilitation into society as a law abiding citizen:
- Clearly indicate what changes a pardon would bring to your present circumstances.
- Describe all positive changes you have already made to improve your situation since your conviction, you may include supporting documents:
- Information on the offence(s)
- Describe the circumstances and how/why the offences were committed.
- For all sexual offences, include the age of the victim. Also provide official documentation if available. (Please attach additional pages if required)
Complete the Checklist and mail your Record Suspension Application and documents with the Record Suspension Application Processing Fee.
IMPORTANT: Make a photocopy of all your Record Suspension Application documents for future reference.
Record SuspensionApplication Checklist:
- Original Criminal Record or Certification of No Criminal Record AND Proof of Conviction documents, as required (explained in Step 1)
- Original Court Information Form (explained in Step 2)
- Original Military Conduct Sheet, as required (explained in Step 3)
- Original Local Police Records Check(s) (explained in Step 4)
- Photocopy of Proof of Citizenship or Immigration Documents, as required (explained in Step 5)
- Photocopy of your identification document (explained in Step 6)
- Original Pardon Application Form (explained in Step 7)
- Additional information required which describes why you are applying for a pardon (explained in Step 8)
- $631.00 (CDN) Record Suspension Application Processing Fee (Step 9)
Mail your Pardon Application Form, $631.00 (CDN) Record Suspension Application Fee (payable to the Receiver General for Canada), and all official documents (originals only) to the PBC at this address:Parole Board of Canada Clemency and Pardons Division 410 Laurier Avenue West, 5th Floor Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R1
How the National Parole Board Makes a Decision
Decisions will be made by one Board member, unless the applicant has been convicted of a sex offence, in which case two Board members will make the decision. Board members will set out in writing the reasons for their decision. If representations are received, the final decision as to whether or not to refuse to grant a pardon, to revoke a pardon, or to cease a pardon, will be made by different Board members. The written decision and reasons are the Board members’ official record of the review process that has been undertaken when deciding to grant a pardon, to deny a pardon, to revoke a pardon or to cease a pardon. Board members must summarize, in language that is clear, concise, and understandable, their overall assessment of the application and their justification for the decision. In all cases requiring two votes, both members must be in agreement. If agreement cannot be reached, the case will be referred to two Board members who did not participate in the initial review.
If the Board proposes either to refuse to grant a pardon, to revoke a pardon or to cease a pardon, the review will not proceed for at least 60 days following notification to the applicant, unless representations are received at an earlier date. If the Board authorizes that representations may be made orally, the representations may be heard by way of an in-person hearing in the national office of the Board or in one of the Board’s regional offices.
Retention / Disposal of Criminal Records
Criminal Records are retained until the subject of the record is eighty (80) years of age with no criminal activity reported in the last ten (10) years, except where the subject:
- has been sentenced to life imprisonment.
- has been designated a “dangerous offender”, and/or is still under the sentence of a court.
- is still the subject of a prohibition order which has not expired.
- has an outstanding warrant or an interest has been expressed by an agency engaged in the execution or administration of the law.
In each of these instances, the criminal record is retained until:
- the subject completes his/her sentence and remains crime free for a period of ten years.
- the subject attains one hundred (100) years of age.
Purging of Criminal Records
- All absolute discharges received on or after July 24, 1992, are removed from the criminal record after a period of one (1) year from the date of sentence.
- Absolute discharges received before July 24, 1992, are removed upon written request from the individual.
- All conditional discharges received on or after July 24, 1992, are removed from the criminal record three (3) years following the date of the sentence.
- Conditional discharges registered before July 24, 1992, are removed upon written request from the individual.
You can get the Request to Purge Absolute and/or Conditional Discharge form (http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/form/index-eng.htm#purge) and complete and send to:RCMP Pardon and Purge Services Box 8885 Ottawa, ON K1G 3M8 Fax: 613-957-9063
Requests must contain all of the following information:
- your full name (including any maiden names or aliases),
- date of birth,
- complete return mailing address, including Civic address, Apartment number and/or P.O. Box number
- phone number (include area code), and
- the particulars of the offence(s) that apply.
Retention/Disposal of Young Persons’ Criminal Record
Having an expired criminal record as a Young Person should not affect you as an adult. Once entries have expired, the charges are removed and cannot be accessed by any law enforcement agency. However, a subject found guilty of a subsequent offence as an adult BEFORE the expiration of the retention period is treated as an adult and the retention and disposal periods applicable to an adult take effect.
Young Person – Treatment of Specific Court Disposition
Summary Offence and Indictable Offence
- If the young person is found guilty of a summary offence, the record is removed three (3) years after the satisfaction of the sentence (custody and/or probation).
- If the young person is found guilty of an indictable offence, the record is active for a period of five (5) years after the satisfaction of the sentence (custody and/or probation) and then is transferred to a special repository.
- If, prior to the expiration of the periods, a conviction for a subsequent summary offence or an indictable offence is entered against a young person, the retention period for all entries will begin anew. Once the retention period for the subsequent offence has expired, the entries are then transferred to a special repository.
Finding of Guilt Not Entered
- If the young person is acquitted (other than by a verdict of not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder) and the charge is dismissed, withdrawn, or stayed, the record is transferred to a special repository.
- If the young person receives a reprimand, extra judicial sanctions or is ordered to enter into a recognizance to keep the peace and maintain good behaviour, the information is transferred to a special repository.
- Restorative justice or extra judicial measures: the information is destroyed upon receipt.
Absolute and Conditional Discharges
- If the young person is found guilty, and given an absolute discharge, the record is transferred to a special repository one (1) year from the date of sentence.
- If found guilty, and given a conditional discharge, the entry is transferred to a special repository three (3) years from the date of sentence.
Young Person Records Removed to a Special Repository
Law enforcement agencies cannot access young person information once it is removed to a special repository. Information stored in the special repository can only be released by Pardon and Purge Services under circumstances outlined in section 128 of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.