Pardons / Record Suspensions

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What effect does a criminal record have?

    A criminal record can affect the severity of a sentence imposed for a later criminal offence. In most cases, a person with a criminal record will be dealt with more harshly by the courts than a person who does not have a record. A record can also affect employment opportunities, particularly where bonding is required, membership in professional associations, licensing, and insurance and franchise applications. Travel to foreign countries may also become more difficult.

  • Does my criminal record have to be destroyed at some point?

    The RCMP central repository must eventually destroy certain records. Other agencies may be able to keep their records indefinitely, subject to non-disclosure.

  • What is a pardon?

    A pardon (or record suspension) sets aside an offence for which you have been convicted. It does not erase the conviction from your record, but it does remove your record from the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database. This means that a search of your name will no longer show that you have a criminal record. A pardon allows people who have kept out of trouble for a period of time since their conviction to be released from some of the burdens of having a criminal record, such as difficulty finding employment.

    A pardon removes some, but not all, of the legal disqualifications that a person may suffer because of a criminal record. Provincial law restrictions on membership in professional organizations, licensing, and insurance are examples of disqualifications which might not be removed by a pardon. Also, pardons apply only to records kept at the federal level. However, many law enforcement agencies cooperate by restricting their records once notified that a pardon has been granted.

  • Who can apply for a pardon?

    Any person who has been found guilty of an offence under an Act or regulation of the Parliament of Canada, such as the Criminal Code or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act may apply for a pardon. The granting of a pardon shows that the original finding of guilt should no longer reflect on the applicant’s character. A pardoned record is kept separate and apart from other criminal records held within federal departments and agencies. It is not necessary to apply for a pardon on a charge that was withdrawn or dismissed since they are not recorded as convictions. Also, the RCMP is supposed to remove conditional and absolute discharges from records after a certain period of time.

  • Can I apply for a record suspension at any time?

    An individual must wait a set period of time from the date of completion of a sentence (whether it is the payment of a fine, a period of incarceration, or a period of probation) before they are eligible to apply for a record suspension. The waiting period for summary conviction offences is five years, and for indictable offences it is ten years.

  • What is a free pardon?

    A free pardon is available under the Criminal Code. It is granted where the innocence of the applicant is established and, therefore, the conviction is proven to have been incorrect.

    Once a free pardon has been granted the recipient is deemed not to have committed the offence. As a result, the criminal record of the offence no longer exists. If there is any sentence left to be served when the pardon is granted, the sentence is erased and does not have to be served. This type of pardon is rarely granted.

  • When can a pardon be revoked?

    A pardon may be revoked if a person:

      1. Is later convicted of a summary conviction offence under a federal act or regulation;
      2. No longer demonstrates good conduct; or
      3. Made a false or deceptive statement or has concealed information in the application.

    A pardon ceases to have effect if a person:

      1. Is convicted of an indictable offence under a federal act or regulation;
      2. Is convicted of a hybrid offence; or
      3. Was not eligible for a pardon at the time that it was granted.
  • I have been prohibited from driving for several years. Will an ordinary pardon restore my driving privileges?

    No. Driver’s licensing is a separate matter from your criminal record. A pardon only has an effect on your criminal record.

  • Where can I get an application for a pardon?

    You can obtain a pardon application and instruction form through the Government of Canada National Parole Board: