03 Apr Record suspension – Some answers to your questions
The process toward obtaining a suspension record, also called a pardon application, is often the first step taken to put behind mistakes of the past and renew hope to make dreams come true.
Here are the answers to the questions people frequently ask me in order to file an application for a record suspension with the Parole Board of Canada (PBC), formerly called the National Parole Board:
Am I eligible to file an application for a record suspension?
To find out, it is important to look at several criteria, but to keep it short, I will talk only about primary eligibility criteria to file an application.
It has been at least 5 or 10 years since the expiry of the sentence (incarceration, probation, fine, surcharge, restitution, etc.), depending on the procedure (summary conviction or indictable offence). For example, if you have been sentenced only to serve a prison sentence, the eligibility is calculated from the end of your term of emprisonment. If you have been sentenced to a suspended sentence along with a three-year probation, the eligibility is calculated from the end of your term of probation. If you have been sentenced to only pay a fine, the eligibility is calculated once the fine has been fully paid.
You have not been convicted of a criminal offence listed in Schedule 1 to the Criminal Records Act. This schedule includes various sexual offences against minors. However, there is one exception to this rule: you were not in a situation of authority or trust with the victim and the victim was not in a situation of dependence with you, you have not used any violence, intimidation or constraint toward the victim, nor attempted or threathened to do so and you were less than 5 years older than the victim.
You have not been convicted of more than 3 offences with procedures by indictment (criminal act) and for which you have been sentenced to two years or more of imprisonment for each offence.
Once the file is ruled admissible by the PBC, the latter will proceed to a detailed analysis of your file.
How long will it take for the PBC to issue its decision?
Between 6 and 24 months, according to the situation, from the moment when the application is ruled admissible and complete by the Parole Board of Canada. Of course, you must include an additional period of time from the moment when you decide to file your record suspension application since you have to obtain several documents with various periods of time involved in obtaining these documents. Normally, it may take more or less 6 months from the moment you proceed with step 1, that is, when you have your fingerprints taken. It is best to start as soon as possible following your eligiblity period to avoid missing out on an opportunity.
How much does it cost to file an application for a record suspension?
The answer to this question depends on many factors, namely the number of times you have moved over the last five years, the locations where you have lived over the last five years, the suppliers of services with whom you will do business to have your fingerprints taken, how many convictions you have and if your criminal record contains all your convictions or not. The Parole Board of Canada alone charges $644.88 to process the application.
Should I call upon a lawyer to prepare my application for a record suspension?
Yes and for many reasons. In order to grant you a record suspension, the PBC will verify and analyze if you meet all of the criteria prescribed by law. Who is in a better position than the lawyer to make sure that your file meets all these legal criteria? The lawyer, of course. As a legal professional, the lawyer will make sure that you are really eligible to file an application for a record suspension, will evaluate your chances of success (only a lawyer has the right to give you legal advice), will collect all information and documents required, and will proceed to the relevant drafting with appropriate legal terms for this procedure.
By entrusting the preparation of your application to a lawyer, you are making sure to forward a complete and admissible file to the PBC. You will thus avoid to have your application return to you, so that you will avoid wasting time needlessly. I can tell you that it happens and more frequently than you think. Many clients call on me after having filed their application by themselves. So please do business with a lawyer to prepare your application. You will for sure increase your chances of obtaining a record suspension more rapidly.