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How Having a Criminal Record in Canada Will Affect Your Life

When you commit an offence or are accused of committing one in Canada, you will have a criminal record with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Whatever the outcome of your charge is, it will be on your record with the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). It can be accessed by state security forces, authorized agencies, and individuals who file a request.

What does a Canadian criminal record contain?

A criminal record contains your personal information, such as your name, height, fingerprints, and iris colour. It will also contain the charges against you as well as the convictions and sentences you have served. If you are found guilty and convicted of an offence in Canada, your information will become part of the offenders’ list of Canada’s police agencies. Also, being charged with a crime would still constitute a derogatory record. Even if you were proven innocent and the case against you was dismissed, the charge would still appear on your records. Having a criminal record, regardless if you are guilty or innocent of the charges, will affect your life in various ways:

1. Criminal records and employment

The most significant way a criminal record will affect your life would be your employment and livelihood. Even as the intent of jailing is to “correct” a person’s misdemeanour, the stigma associated with being a convict is permanent. 

While Canada’s human rights laws discourage discrimination in the workplace, no law also forbids employers to refuse applicants who have a criminal record. Unfortunately, most employers tend to avoid hiring someone with a criminal record, especially that of a conviction. When you apply for them, your prospective employer will compel you to sign a consent form that lets them request and access your criminal records with the CPIC.

If you have a criminal record, your job application with the government is likely to be rejected. Even nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) require applicants to agree to a criminal background check.

2. Criminal records and residency, citizenship

Migrants still applying for citizenship or permanent residency may face rejection if they have a criminal record. Worse, they can be deported anytime because of criminal records.

3. Criminal records and adoption

Canadian law requires anyone planning to adopt children to undergo a variant of criminal record check called “vulnerable sector search.” Courts and childcare agencies will deny the adoption if an individual has a derogatory criminal record, especially if the crime or charge involves children.

4. Criminal records and child custody

In child custody hearings, usually related to divorce issues, a judge will request for the criminal records of the parties concerned. If any or both parties have a criminal record, the judge will use it as evidence of a person’s “bad character.” It would imperil the chances of one or both parties of obtaining custody of a child. The judge may even deny visitation rights to persons with a “bad character” and explicitly require them to stay away from the child through a restraining order.

5. Criminal records and social services, finance

The punishment of a convicted felon continues long after they left the bars. Convicts are ineligible for social services, such as medical insurance, education scholarships, social security, and childcare support. They are also denied finance services, such as access to credit.

6. Criminal records and travel

Those who plan to travel abroad will also need to have a clean criminal record before another country allows them to enter. For example, US customs officers can deny you from driving across the border if you have a criminal record. You can’t lie to them because the Canadian and US governments have an agreement to share criminal records data for purposes of law enforcement.

7. Criminal records can worsen your penalty

If you have a criminal record and you commit another offence, such as jaywalking or littering, your penalty can be heavier than that of a person who committed the same offense but has no criminal record. You might also have to serve more jail time for committing the same offence the second or third time.

A criminal record in Canada is not automatically erased

Regardless of how light your infraction was, your criminal record will remain on file with the CPIC for as long as you live. However, you can apply for a record suspension or pardon with the Parole Board Canada (PBC). When granted, your information will be separated and reclassified to prevent access by most people.

If you’re looking for a Canadian pardon, get in touch with us today to see how we can help!

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