Area of Law: Criminal Records
Answer Number: 2170
Pardons and Record Suspensions (RS) for convictionsRegion: Ontario Answer Number: 2170
What is a Conviction?
A conviction means that someone was charged with an offence under a federal law (usually the Criminal Code), went to court and was found guilty and convicted.
What are Pardons and Record Suspensions (RS)?
The new pardon law came into effect as of March 13, 2012. Apart from the difference in terminology and some eligibility (and non-eligibility) rule changes, the effect of a Pardon and of an RS is the same. If you were convicted of an offence, you must apply to have your record suspended, which means that it will be sealed and removed from the main repository of RCMP records, and from the police station and courthouse.
The word Pardon and the term Record Suspension (RS) are to be used as follows:
- When discussing new applications, the term Record Suspension or RS will be used,
- When reviewing historical data, the word Pardon will be used,
- When discussing matters that apply to both the over 400,000 Pardons in existence and to Record Suspensions being ordered now, both will be used.
Once a Pardon or an RS has been awarded, the Criminal Records Act (CRA) requires the RCMP (and any other federal government department or agency having a copy of the record in their custody), to keep the record separate and apart from other criminal records and not to disclose it. In addition, the Minister of Public Safety requests all other persons (who are not under federal jurisdiction) having custody or control of any judicial record of conviction about the person to seal those records and not disclose them on police records searches.
The criminal record is not destroyed through either of these processes. Rather, it is hidden and cannot be disclosed through a criminal records check unless:
- the Pardon or RS is revoked or ceases to have effect,
- it falls within the rules for sex-related offences (if someone received a Pardon or an RS for a Schedule 2 sexual offence then that fact will be disclosed on vulnerable-sector checks), or
- the permission to disclose it has been obtained from the federal Minister of Public Safety.
Pardons that have previously been granted or issued (and have not been revoked or ceased to have effect) remain valid and in force.
Once a criminal record exists, it is up to the individual to take the proper steps to have the record removed.
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, refer to our criminal law section.
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