What Does Asking for A Pardon Consist of In Criminal Law?


If you have a criminal record, it is not an unusual thing. Over 3 million Canadians have a criminal record. Usually, these are related to Criminal Code offences and the high numbers indicate that most of these people are not currently involved in any form of illegal activity. Whether your record is a result of a recent event or something from the past, you may be eligible for a pardon.

So, what is a pardon under criminal law, what are its benefits, and what are the eligibility conditions? Find out in this guide.

What is a Pardon?

All information about an individual found guilty of a crime is stored digitally by the RCMP. This file is simply known as a criminal record. You can seek a pardon or criminal record suspension with the help of your lawyer. Once you get a pardon, your criminal record will become confidential, and the information can be accessed only in rare situations.

Canadian law lays down 3 types of pardons. These include:

  • A free pardon is granted by the Governor in Council or Governor General due to an erroneous conviction
  • An ordinary pardon is granted or issued by the Nation al Parole Board.
  • A conditional pardon is granted by the Governor in Council or Governor General due to undue punishment in proportion to the seriousness and/or nature of the offence.

In order to determine which pardon is suited to your situation, it is best to seek the professional services of an attorney in criminal law, such as Martine Thibodeau Avocate Criminaliste. Free and conditional pardons are unique remedies that apply in exceptional situations and are rare. Most of the time, lawyers and their clients apply for an ordinary pardon.

Benefits of a Record Suspension

Some of the key benefits of getting a pardon under the criminal law are as follows:

  • No more discrimination in employment
  • Eliminating obstacles to permanent residency or citizenship
  • Reduced risks when crossing the U.S. border
  • Improved chances of getting child custody or successful child adoption
  • Passing rental background checks
  • Improved loan profile

Are You Eligible for a Pardon?

Once you have paid the fine, served the sentence or probation, or other punishment ordered by the court, you should consider your eligibility for pardon. Time is an important factor here.

  • Summary Offences: In the case of less serious offences, you will have to wait for 5 years after the completion of your sentence.
  • Indictment Offences: In the case of more serious offences, you will have to wait for 10 years after the completion of the sentence before you can apply for a pardon.

If your sentence was jail time, you can apply for a pardon 5 to 10 years after you have finished that time. It is recommended to apply for a pardon a year before your waiting period comes to an end.

A pardon technically means that the department or federal agency that maintains the records of convictions will keep your records separate from other criminal records. The information related to the offence for which the pardon was granted is removed from the CPIC system.

Summary of a Pardon

It is recommended to know the following about a pardon under the criminal law:

  • A suspension of criminal record seals a conviction committed under an Act of Parliament.
  • A pardon is proof that you have rehabilitated and now maintain a good character.
  • It also means that your record should no longer be a reflection on your character.
  • A pardon is now technically known as a Record Suspension.
  • It helps eliminate most forms of potential discrimination you may face in your professional and personal life.

Once you have completed your waiting time, have not been involved in certain Schedule 1 offences, and meet other conditions, you may be eligible for a pardon. It is best to seek the services of an experienced and accomplished criminal lawyer to help you take the right actions.