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Ready to Wipe the Slate Clean? Here's What You Need to Get a Pardon

Mistakes in the past shouldn't hold you back from building a future, especially if you've already paid your debt to society. The Canadian criminal justice system realizes that, so they've made the process more human by reducing the waiting period from 10 years to between one and five and streamlined the Pardon Applications process. However, convictions for sexual offenses and certain violent crimes resulting in serious injury remain at 10 years.

Who Qualifies for a Pardon?

Anyone who has completed their sentence the waiting period. The waiting periods are divided into summary offenses and indictable offenses. There is also a waiting period for court records to be destroyed, even if the court appearance didn't result in a conviction. sentences don't only mean jail time; they can include fines, house arrest and community service.

Pardons don't apply to traffic or provincial offenses. It will also not effect driving or weapons bans implemented due to convictions. You will not be eligible if you are convicted of sexual offenses against a child or have been convicted of an indictable offense with a prison sentence of more than two years.

How Long Does the Process Take?

First, you must complete your sentence. Once that is done, you have to pass the waiting period. It breaks down like this:

- Court appearance with an absolute discharge: one year

- Court appearance with a conditional discharge: three years

- Not guilty verdicts: records will be destroyed after one year

- Summary offense: three years

- Indictable offenses: 10 years

After the waiting period has expired, you will have to get the necessary documents and forms gathered and filled in, which can take up to a year. The final step is to file for a records suspension with the Parole Board of Canada (PBC). It takes another 6 - 12 months for that process.

What Exactly Dos a Pardon Do?

A pardon, or record suspension, will improve your ability to travel outside of the country, make it easier to gain employment, housing or educational opportunities. It does not, however, erase your conviction. Since they aren't recognized by the U.S. government, you will have to get a waiver for travel to the United States.

Pardons remove the record of your criminal history from the public record. It is then only accessible under extreme circumstances with special permission from the Minister of Public Safety. The only exception that rule are persons who have been convicted of sexual offenses and are applying for employment working with children or the disabled, who would be subject to a Vulnerable Sector Check.

If you want professional help to navigate the court system in Canada, choose a law firm that handles pardons. There are also a number of private companies who offer help with the application process. No matter which avenue you choose, you'll have access to the necessary forms ad well as a knowledgeable professional to help you fill them in and file them.