A Guide To Understanding Criminal Records And Pardons In Canada

September 14, 2023


Navigating the realm of the Canadian legal system can often feel like wading through a dense thicket, especially when it concerns matters as impactful as criminal records. A criminal record in Canada is not just a mere compilation of past misdemeanours; it’s a shadow that can follow you, subtly affecting numerous facets of your life, from job prospects to travel plans.

Recognizing the gravity of this, many seek to understand the intricate processes tied to these records and, where possible, how to diminish their effect through pardons.

Pardons, or record suspensions as they’re officially termed, offer a means to separate yourself from past convictions, allowing for greater opportunities and fewer limitations. However, the path to obtaining one is paved with legal intricacies and procedures that require both patience and comprehension.

This is where the expertise of a criminal defence lawyer in Edmonton becomes invaluable. With their profound knowledge of the local and national legal landscape, these professionals act as both a guiding light and a steadfast advocate.

Their role transcends more than just mere representation; they can demystify legal jargon, help you manage procedural requirements, and defend your case. As we delve deeper into the subject of criminal records and the coveted pardons in the Canadian context, remember that with the right legal partner by your side, these complexities can become far more easily navigable.

What Is A Criminal Record?

At its core, a criminal record is a formal documentation of an individual’s prior convictions within the Canadian legal system. But to merely label it as such would be an oversimplification of what it encapsulates and represents.

Every time an individual is convicted of a crime in Canada, that conviction is registered in the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database. This record doesn’t merely contain major convictions but also other legal encounters such as:

  • Summary and indictable convictions.
  • Absolute and conditional discharges (which remain for a stipulated period).
  • Specific types of probation orders and prohibitions.
  • Outstanding charges and warrants.
  • Peace bonds (which remain for a duration of one year).

It’s noteworthy to mention that not all encounters with law enforcement necessarily result in a lasting criminal record. For instance, a withdrawn charge or an acquittal will not be added to this record.

The Long-Term Implications Of Having A Criminal Record

A criminal record is more than just a historical account of one’s legal indiscretions. It has tangible and long-lasting repercussions:

  1. Employment: Many employers in Canada conduct criminal record checks, which might limit job opportunities and career advancements.
  2. Travel: Some countries, notably the United States, can deny entry based on certain criminal convictions.
  3. Housing: Rental agencies and landlords may conduct background checks, possibly influencing rental opportunities.
  4. Civic Responsibilities: A criminal record might limit one’s ability to serve on a jury.
  5. Child Decision-Making Rights (Custody): It can influence decisions in child custody disputes, especially if the convictions are related to violence or endangerment.

Given these extensive implications, managing and mitigating the effects of a criminal record becomes paramount. This leads us to the pivotal role of professional intervention.

The Role Of A Criminal Defence Lawyer In Edmonton

In the vast maze of the Canadian legal system, a criminal defence lawyer in Edmonton serves as an indispensable navigator. Their role isn’t restricted to the courtroom. They offer:

  • Guidance On Disclosure: Informing clients about when and how to disclose their criminal record, especially in employment scenarios.
  • Record Suspension Advice: Helping clients understand when and how to apply for a record suspension to mitigate the effects of past convictions.
  • Expungement Assistance: For specific convictions, especially those deemed historically unjust, lawyers can guide individuals through the expungement process, permanently destroying the record of that conviction.

A criminal record carries weight, and its shadow can loom large over multiple areas of life. Yet, with the astute guidance of a seasoned criminal defence lawyer in Edmonton, individuals can find routes to redemption, understanding, and in many cases, genuine fresh starts.

Understanding Pardons In Canada

A pardon can be like a beacon of hope for those with a criminal record and symbolizes a form of redemption. However, before one can fully appreciate or seek it, a foundational understanding of pardons is crucial.

Definition And Significance Of A Pardon

In the Canadian context, a pardon, now officially termed a ‘record suspension,’ is an acknowledgment that the individual’s criminal record should not be held against them in most scenarios. It doesn’t erase the conviction but separates the pardoned crimes from other criminal records. This means when a criminal record check is performed, the pardoned crimes won’t show up.

The significance of a pardon goes beyond the legal realm. It offers a tangible representation of society’s acknowledgment that the individual has rehabilitated and reintegrated. It’s a testament to the belief in second chances and the human capacity for transformation.

The Difference Between A Pardon And A Record Suspension

Though the terms ‘pardon’ and ‘record suspension’ are often used interchangeably, there are nuances that differentiate them. In 2012, Canada’s legal lexicon shifted when the term ‘pardon’ was replaced with ‘record suspension’ via the Safe Streets and Communities Act.

While both serve to set aside convictions in most cases, a record suspension is more about closing access to a particular criminal record rather than forgiving the crime. Pardons have the connotation of absolution, but record suspensions emphasize the separation of past convictions from public visibility without making a moral judgement on the act itself.

The Benefits Of Obtaining A Record Suspension In Canada

Achieving a pardon or record suspension in Canada is not a mere symbolic gesture; it has tangible advantages:

  • Employment Opportunities: With a sealed record, many employment avenues that were once closed due to background checks become accessible again.
  • Educational Prospects: Some educational institutions, especially those involving placements or internships, require a clean record, making pardons vital for academic pursuits.
  • Travel Benefits: A pardon can facilitate smoother international travel, especially to countries with stringent entry requirements related to criminal records.
  • Housing And Rentals: A pardon can simplify the rental process, eliminating the possibility of being turned away due to past convictions.
  • Personal Growth: Beyond the tangible, the psychological and emotional relief of having a pardon can’t be understated. It often symbolizes the closing of a chapter and the start of a life free from the baggage of past mistakes.

About Slaferek Law

Slaferek Law is a leading criminal defence firm located in the heart of Edmonton. With a dedicated team of seasoned legal professionals, we pride ourselves on our unwavering commitment to our clients. Our vast experience in dealing with various facets of Canadian law allows us to provide unparalleled advice, advocacy, and representation. From assault offences and DUI defence to guiding individuals through the complexities of pardons and record suspensions, Slaferek Law is more than just a law firm; we are your partners in navigating the legal landscape.

Contact us now.

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Contacting Darin H. Slaferek

We specialize in criminal law, delivering ethical, effective, and efficient legal solutions that prioritize the best interests of our clients.