Area of Law: Criminal Records
Answer # 2180
Royal Prerogative of Mercy: Obtaining a Record Suspension before eligibilityRegion: Ontario Answer # 2180
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.
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
A 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).
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, refer to our criminal law section.
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