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Royal Prerogative of Mercy: Obtaining a Record Suspension before eligibility

Region: Ontario Answer # 2180

To erase your Canadian criminal record, or to obtain a USA Entry Waiver, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners.

The Royal Prerogative of Mercy (RPM) is a discretionary power based on an ancient right of the monarchy to grant mercy. In Canada, the Governor General or the Governor in Council has the power to exercise this right. The Governor in Council will grant clemency upon recommendation from the Minister of Public Safety, who, in turn, receives recommendations from the Parole Board.

Although few people make these applications, and they are almost never granted, under the Criminal Code, the Governor in Council can grant any of the following types of mercy:

1. Free Pardon

If the person is innocent, the free pardon recognizes that the conviction was in error and erases both the consequences and the record of conviction.

2. Conditional Pardon

conditional pardon, which would allow the record to be sealed before eligibility is reached, is almost never granted. This refers to either of these two situations:

  • The criminal record is kept separate and apart from other criminal records prior to eligibility (five or ten years, whichever is applicable),
  • Parole in advance of the eligibility date under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act in cases of life and indeterminate sentences.

3. Remission of fine, forfeiture, and pecuniary penalty

If ordered, this can erase all or part of the monetary penalty that was imposed by the court.

Under the RPM, the role of the Parole Board is to review clemency applications and make their recommendations to the Minister. In addition to reviewing clemency applications, the PBC can also cancel or vary the unexpired portion of a prohibition order made under s. 259 of the Criminal Code.

The guidelines that the Parole Board uses to review the RPM applications are strict and include such statements as intended only for rare cases, and undue hardship … out of proportion to the nature and seriousness of the offence. Clemency is only granted in extreme situations (only 3 percent of applications).

Get help

To erase your criminal record, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, refer to our criminal law section.

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