Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Do you qualify for a pardon?

Good Day readers:

Undoubtedly, there are those needlessly being harmed in their professional and personal lives because of a criminal record who qualify for a pardon. Recently we were contacted by a representative from The National Pardon Centre a non-profit, family run organization with offices in Toronto, Calgary and Montreal. NPC is RCMP accredited as a fingerprinting agency capable of handling a file from start to finish.

The National Pardon Centre contributed the following article which is being posted as a public service. For more informatin visit

Clare L. Pieuk

Canada’s pardon program is remarkably fair. Eligibility for a pardon is not based on the judgment of a third party it is only a matter of meeting the requirements set forth by the Parole Board of Canada. The first condition for being eligible for a pardon is that the sentence must be completed and a waiting period, in which the applicant is considered to have been of “good conduct”, must be met. Since criminal offences have different levels of severity, different waiting periods are established for different offences.

In Canada we have two categories of offence, summary and indictable but many people will be more familiar with the equivalent American terms, Misdemeanor and Felony. However, in the Canadian case the terms do not reflect jurisdiction. They only reflect that the Crown has determined if an offence is considered to be less or more serious.
Once the sentence is complete (all fines are paid, jail time completed, probationary period is over, etc.) a 3 year waiting period must be met for summary offences and a 5 year waiting period must be met for indictable offences. In some more extreme cases involving sexual offences or offences causing bodily harm a 10 year waiting period is imposed. Remember that the waiting period is in addition to the sentence. Therefore, if a serious offender received a 5 year prison term then 15 years must pass before he/she becomes eligible for a pardon.

Recent legislative changes give the Parole Board discretion to refuse any application for any reason whatsoever but this power is unlikely to be exercised in all but the most extreme cases.

Despite some recent controversy surrounding Bill C 23 B and the proposed restrictions on pardons being pursued by the Conservative Party there is no doubt that Canada’s pardon program is a positive one. It has allowed a huge number of people to put mistakes in the past and move on with their lives allowing people to become gainfully employed.

It should be noted, however, that a pardon does not erase the fact that a person was convicted of a criminal offence. Rather, someone who has received a pardon has the criminal record removed from public file. It is sealed and kept separate and apart and only permission from the Public Safety Minister will allow the file to be accessed. This happens in cases where a person re-offends and the pardon is then revoked. Statistics maintained by the Parole Board of Canada indicate that the revocation rate is less than 3%, which demonstrates that the vast majority of people who receive a pardon never re-offend.

If you have a criminal record it is wise to apply for a pardon even before you are eligible. The paperwork process is long and tedious, involving communications with the RCMP, the courts, local police services and the Parole Board of Canada. Once a pardon is granted you should never have to reveal to anyone that you were convicted of a crime. But remember a pardon is all or nothing. You cannot pardon an old charge and wait to pardon a more recent one at a later date. A pardon is indication that you have been of good conduct. So, stay out of trouble with the law and the government will eventually deem you eligible to have your criminal record removed and you can get on with your life.

About the Author

The National Pardon Centre is a family-run, non-profit organization that offers Canadian pardon services and US entry waiver services with offices in Toronto, Calgary and Montreal.


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