Experts Speak

The New, Updated Legislation on Criminal Record Suspension in Canada

Receiving a conviction for a crime in Canada can affect a person’s entire life, social relationships, and employment flexibility. For more serious charges, a former convict may encounter obstacles when traveling abroad, applying for educational problems, and even leasing a home.

For more than three decades, Canada has been working under the 1985 Criminal Records Act to provide support to citizens who were convicted of criminal offenses, but who also followed a complete rehabilitation program.

The Criminal Records Act aimed to provide deserving individuals with a chance at a fresh start. Former convicts who wanted to put their criminal behavior past them and become valuable members of society could use this legislation to begin again with a clean slate.

However, in recent years, the Criminal Records Act showed signs of obsolesce, and many of its amendments appeared outdated when applied to our present-day society and its needs. As a result, the Government chose to upgrade it to become more functional in today’s world.

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The Recent Changes to the Criminal Records Act

According to the old version of the Criminal Records Act, when a convict would show optimal rehabilitation, he or she would be eligible for a pardon.

However, in 2012, the Canadia Government updated the Criminal Records Act to rename the “pardon” as “criminal record suspension.” This modification aims to create the notion of “pause” in the individual’s criminal activity. If they would ever resume their illegal behavior, the criminal record suspension would be revoked. In the old version of the law, a pardon would not be revoked, even if the recidivist criminal would go to prison after another conviction.

Another change to the Criminal Record Act saw the prolongation of the eligibility period concerning particular offenses. As a result, the convicts who would want to be eligible for receiving a criminal record suspension would have to wait more before applying.

Even after these changes have taken place, the former version of the Canadian pardon remains in effect, but under the name of criminal record suspension.

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How long before a criminal record suspension is valid in Canada?

According to The Criminal Records Act, applying for and obtaining a criminal record suspension is a ten-step legal procedure. Usually, the entire duration of this process is between 10 and 18 months, and it depends on the type of criminal offense and on the number of accusation heads that the convict has received.

Generally, it takes about four to six months to prepare the application for a criminal record suspension. Next, it takes between three and six months for the government to process the application.

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Can a convict apply for a criminal record suspension?

Any individual who has received a criminal conviction and wants to apply for a criminal record suspension can do so without the support of legal experts, lawyers, or pardon services agencies.

Anyone in this situation can fill in their application and send it to the Pardon Applications of Canada and then follow up with all the legal steps that a legal process usually takes.

If you find yourself applying for a criminal record suspension, you should know that every step in this process is essential and unskippable. If you make any mistakes during it, your application will most likely be rejected or deemed invalid. In that case, you will have to start the application process again, but not before a full year passes. 

Time is crucial when applying for a criminal record suspension, so you have to do your best when filling in the application, especially if you do it without legal support from someone else.

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What is the cost of getting a criminal record suspension?

Even if you have put in the effort to show that you are a fully rehabilitated convict, you will still have to pay for obtaining a criminal record suspension. This process involves deleting from public view all the information about your previous offenses.

The cost of getting a criminal record suspension ranges between $1,300 and $1,900 for legal support plus the submission fee charged by the Government, which is now $631. Therefore, you might pay as much as $2,500 to obtain a successful application.

If you make any mistakes during the application process and your submission is rejected, you will not be refunded.

To begin the 10-step process that may obtain you a criminal record suspension, you should first check to see if you qualify for one. With legal support, this step should be easier since the experts you employ will research and compare your data with the eligibility requirements for obtaining a suspension.

Remember that applying for a criminal record suspension is a fully confidential process. Regardless of its outcome, the data in your application will not become public.

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by Sushree Swagatika

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