In Canada, as in many other countries, there are two ways to handle criminal offenses: one time and multiple time. There have been recent changes in the laws regarding expunging or sealing criminal records. Unless a conviction has been expunged or sealed, and the offence has been cleared from your criminal record by the courts, any reference to it in your employment application may be turned down. This is not the same for a Class A misdemeanor, which is essentially a lesser charge. Unless your offence was expunged, it cannot be expunged unless it is shown on your resume that you were not guilty of the offence.
There were three major reforms to the Criminal Records Act in Canada, which brought significant amendments and changes to the record suspension provisions.
- The first of these, as you may be aware, was the introduction of the Canada Police Act, which added new sections relating to criminal records. These laws introduced a new process for assessing a person’s eligibility for a pardon. By criminal records, we are referring to those sections of a person’s criminal record that reveals a criminal conviction, or facts indicating that a person may have been wrongfully convicted of a crime. These include arrests, convictions, sentences, and other instances.
- The second of the major reforms to the Criminal Records Act came with the scrapping of the age ten years of limitations for convictions on indictable offences. Prior to this amendment, if a person had served ten years in prison for an indictable offence, their eligibility for a pardon was automatically withdrawn. The age limit of ten years was imposed in place of the maximum ten years of the sentence that could be imposed on an individual for an indictable offence under the Criminal Code. If you had served ten years of your sentence, then you no longer qualified for a pardon.
- The third and most significant reform to the Criminal Records Act came with the inclusion of a section addressing investigative queries. Before this amendment, a person who was being investigated for a criminal record violation could be questioned about any related allegations inadmissible or irrelevant to the investigation. In addition, if investigative queries resulted in the identification of such allegations, then the accused individual’s right to appeal against the conviction was automatically terminated.
Subsequently, there was another amendment that removed a number of offences from the list of crimes that were not taken into consideration during criminal record searches.
Primarily, this meant offences that occurred on the basis of domestic violence, offences, murder, assault, child pornography, kidnapping, and fraud (although it did include some other offences).. This is why the Canadian Police Association has been so instrumental in promoting good conduct in the workplace. Police officers who commit criminal offences are required to be reprimanded or even suspended, rather than face criminal charges.
- The fourth amendment to the Criminal Records Act stipulated that if an individual did not have both English and French spoken fluently, and could not accurately interpret English, then they would not be considered “qualified” to apply for a Canadian Police Certification. Prior to this amendment, individuals who did not meet these requirements could still get a police clearance. With this new legislation, the only way an individual could get a police certificate in Canada was if they possessed English and French spoken fluency. While many people speak both English and French and are qualified for a police clearance, others may still have difficulty understanding the written language. For this reason, having a background check completed on an applicant was always an important requirement.
Despite the aforementioned four amendments to the Criminal Records Act, there are still some serious issues that need to be considered when dealing with criminal records. These issues deal with the removal of certain elements from the Criminal Records Act, and record suspension.
- First, amendments 14 and 16 introduced the no-fault termination option, which allows police officers to terminate a person’s criminal record if they could not find sufficient evidence to justify a finding of guilt.
- Second, amendments 15 and 18 introduce legislation that will give police officers the authority to order the release of a person from jail while they are being investigated for a crime. This power will also allow police to enter private homes without a warrant if they believe there is evidence of a crime.
- Lastly, police can now apply to the Office of the Superintendent of Criminal Records for a one-time access to all federal and provincial Criminal Records databases.
If you are appealing for pardon, one of the things that may be going through your mind is whether or not your record suspension by pardon applications can be considered in the eyes of the court. While Canada does not have a system that will allow pardon requests to be used against you, there are still ways that your appeal can be considered in the eyes of the law. In most cases, your conviction and criminal record will remain sealed until eight years have passed during which time a pardon application can be filed. This is also true if you have been resentenced and completed the rehabilitation program.