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You Ask. We Answer

We know you have questions and understand the importance of clear answers

Common Pardon Questions

What is the difference between a summary offence versus an indictable offence?
The Canadian criminal code outlines all criminal offences in Canada and dictates whether they are considered a summary (or less serious) offence (known in the US as a misdemeanor) or indictable (more serious) understood to be the equivalent to a felony.

With that said, many offences are considered hybrid, whereby the presiding Judge has the authority to determine how the case will be handled in court. The important factor with respect to how this affects you applying for a Pardon is the waiting period. Offences after 2010 across the country are required to wait 5 or 10 years after the disposition (or punishment) has been satisfied. Offences prior to 2010 in Ontario and BC are calculated differently based on the appropriate legislation.

Is a Record Suspension the same as a Pardon in Canada?
The short answer is Yes. Bill C-10 implemented by the Conservative government in March 2012 changed the name from Pardon to Record Suspension among other aspects but the overall effect is the same. Both, once approved, are removed from all databases, and sealed from anyone accessing this past information. Both can still be revoked if the applicant were to be convicted of a serious offence again.
Can my Pardon be denied?
The percentage of Record Suspension or Pardon applications denied each year by the federal government is low, approximately 6%.

Criteria to confirm you meet eligibility requirements is clear, and as long as we prove you meet the good conduct criteria it is unlikely your application would be denied. Though government and individual clerical errors happen regularly and documents expire if the process is not followed explicitly when doing it on your own, the government generally provides opportunities to correct or add something that may be missing before they would deny the application outright.

Can I get my possession of marijuana charge expunged now that cannabis is legal in Canada?
With cannabis becoming legal for recreational use in Canada on October 17, 2018, individuals with past criminal offences of simple possession are now wondering what steps need to be taken to have these offences removed. Cannabis Amnesty strongly advocated for the government to expunge this type of offence for individuals and after many months before the House of Commons and then Senate, royal assent was approved in June 2019. Although expunging a simple possession charge sounds straight-forward, many factors must be evaluated and in the end a Record Suspension (formerly known as a Pardon) is still required.

The exciting news is, you no longer have to pay the federal government processing fee and eligibility and subsequent criteria are no longer evaluated in decision-making.

How do I know if I fall under old legislation
In March 2012, the Conservative government implemented new rules to the Pardon process under Bill C-10. When Bill C-10 came into effect it introduced extended eligibility periods, new language (Record Suspension, former called a Pardon), additional requirements and an overall challenge in adapting to the new rule for both individuals and government agencies alike. The most significant challenge became obtaining accurate information on official government documentation. In addition, significant backlogs for thousands of people that were eligible for their pardon now having to wait under the new rules of calculations.

Common Waiver Questions

Can I cross the US border with a DUI charge?
Generally speaking it is illegal to enter the US with a Canadian criminal record, however, there are caveats. At Pardon Partners, although we would always advise against attempting to enter the US prior to receiving your Pardon, life circumstances don’t always allow for this. You may have an upcoming wedding, a funeral or important business meeting to attend. There are situations where the Customs & Border Patrol Officers (CBP) are permitted to use their personal discretion based on you having only one summary (or misdemeanor) offence, but this does not guarantee entry. If you must enter the US prior to your Pardon being approved, it is best to discuss your circumstances with one of our professionals to outline best case versus worst case scenarios and how to prepare yourself with your best chances of entry.
Does the US have access to my criminal record?
As neighbouring countries with a shared border, Canada and the U.S. have access to pertinent information to keep our borders safe. The officials at each of the borders, Customs & Border Protection (CBP) on the US side and Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) on the Canadian side have access to the other other countries federal police databases. If you have been fingerprinted for a criminal offence, even if you were not found guilty, there is a very high probability that your assigned fingerprint section number is available in the RCMP database. Upon presenting yourself at any port of entry (land border or international airport), the CBP Officers have the ability to check the CPIC database to access your criminal record or fingerprint number. Once this information has been obtained, it is likely you will be denied entry and instructed to obtain a US Entry Waiver for any future travel into the US.
How do I get an emergency travel Waiver?
If you have found yourself in a situation where entry into the US is imperative and are looking to obtain permission urgently, there are formal steps in place to apply for this type of status. However, this option is only offered under very specific circumstances and does not happen instantaneously. It is recommended that you speak to one of our team members to guide you through what this process entails.
Can I enter the US with cannabis if I have a medical license in Canada?
No. Although cannabis has become legal in Canada and some US states, for both medical and recreational use, it is considered a controlled substance and remains illegal under federal law in the US. As federal law prohibits importation and exportation of marijuana, crossing the international border with marijuana would rank as a very serious offence that could result in seizure, fines, arrest and will impact your admissibility.

The easy answer, don't travel with marijuana. If you must for medical purposes, we recommend speaking to one of our team to discuss your situation.


Common Criminal Rehabilitation Questions

What if I need to enter Canada urgently?
The Criminal Rehabilitation application can be a lengthy process with document collection followed by an average of 12 months awaiting the government decision.

If you have extenuating or pressing circumstances, you may need to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit. This application can be processed much faster but will be out of the scope of the work we do.

We would instead refer you to an affiliate who would take this work on for you with your interest and permission.

What happens if my Criminal Rehabilitation application is denied?
The government is typically very clear in its explanation as to why any application is denied and almost always sends a formal request for additional documentation or information allowing you to further support your application before they would deny an application.

If eligibility has not yet been met or criminal record information is considered indictable, chances of the success of your application will be explained to you to manage expectations.

If your application was denied and beyond the scope of our experience, you would have 2 options; wait and reapply after meeting the criteria the denial spoke to, or appeal the decision. With respect to the latter, decisions to deny are not often overturned, so we may advise against this or refer you to another professional.