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794 Removing a criminal record: Eligibility Contrary to what most people believe, criminal records are not automatically destroyed or sealed.
To ensure that a criminal record is completely sealed or destroyed, the individual must take steps. There are 3 ways that a record can be removed. If you were convicted of an offence, you must apply to have your record pardoned, which means that it will be sealed and removed from the main repository of RCMP records, and from the police station and court house.
- Eligibility: Pardon for convictionsTo be eligible for a pardon, you must wait 3 or 5 years after completing the sentence imposed by the court, such as paying fines or completing probation. If the charge was less serious and the court proceeded summarily, then you must wait 3 years. If the charge was more serious and the court proceeded by indictment, then you must wait 5 years. Although the waiting period must pass before your pardon can be granted, it is important to start collecting information as soon as possible, so that you can determine your exact date of eligibility and ensure that you have complied with everything that was ordered by the court.
- Eligibility: DischargesIf you have not been convicted but you have been found guilty, it means that you received either an absolute or conditional discharge. In this case you will need to have your record purged and destroyed. The waiting period before purging and destroying an absolute discharge is one year, and for a conditional discharge is 3 years from the date that the court found you guilty.
- Eligibility: No finding of guiltIf you were fingerprinted but the charges were withdrawn, stayed or dismissed, or you were acquitted, you will need to have your file destroyed. The waiting period is usually about five months to one year. Whether your file will be destroyed depends on the particular police service and if you have other offences on your record.
If your criminal record is not destroyed or pardoned, it will be discovered in almost all police clearance searches. This is so because your name and date of birth, and your fingerprints are now on file with the police and the RCMP.
For more information about removing a criminal record and pardons for convictions, you may call the Pardons Canada telephone support line or the National Parole Board. The telephone numbers are listed on the Legal Line Guide and website, and in your telephone book.