A criminal record can come with many consequences. If you have a criminal record in Canada, you run the risk of facing stigma, missing out on opportunities, and not being able to experience the same things as those without a criminal record. If you have a criminal record or at risk of receiving one, read on to learn the various consequences of having a criminal record.
What is a Criminal Record?
A criminal record lays out a person’s criminal history. A person’s criminal record lists out all criminal offences that an individual was charged for that have not yet been expunged. In Canada, a criminal record includes all criminal convictions where a pardon has not been granted, but can also include outstanding charges, a record of discharged that have not been removed, charges that have resulted in a Stay of Proceedings, as well as any sexual offences or convictions, regardless of if a pardon was granted. Your criminal record also will contain information about your identity. Criminal record checks are often required for jobs that have higher levels of security or work with vulnerable populations.
Can Anyone Request a Criminal Record Check?
In Canada, anyone can request a criminal record check so long as the person of interest in the criminal record check consents. Criminal record checks are a legal stipulation for job, volunteering, travel, and other opportunities. So long as you consent to it, anyone can request your criminal record from the RCMP or a municipal police force.
Consequences for Having a Criminal Record in Canada
Employment Consequences with Criminal Record
Currently, there are no legal protections against discrimination for employment for those with a criminal record, unless they have received a pardon. Any employer can require a criminal record check for a job application. If you have a criminal record and have not received a pardon, an employer is within their rights to refuse to hire you or fire you (without cause) if they so choose. If an employer wishes to fire someone for a criminal record with cause, typically that would require the criminal offence to be connected to your job (such as theft or fraud or a sexual crime when working with vulnerable populations) or due to lying about not having a criminal record when you, in fact, do.
Housing Consequences with a Criminal Record
There are some consequences for having a criminal record when looking for housing. Many landlords will require a criminal record check before signing a lease, and they are permitted to deny your rental application if they choose. Also, if your criminal record contains sexual offences there may be areas in which you are not allowed to live, such as within a radius of a school or daycare.
Travel Consequences with a Criminal Record
There are several travel consequences to having a criminal record. If you have a criminal record, a country may deny you entry depending on their laws (including the type of criminal offence and how long since your offence was committed). In the US, entry can be denied if you have committed a crime of ‘moral turpitude’, which means that the criminal act violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community. Acts of ‘moral turpitude’ include aggravated assault, murder, theft, and others. The US shares a criminal database with Canada and will be aware of any criminal offences. Most Canadians with criminal records can still apply for a passport; however, if your sentencing contains a stipulation against possessing a passport, it can be denied.
How to Get Your Criminal Record Removed
A criminal record suspension, also referred to as a pardon, is an application to have your criminal record separated from other criminal records. To apply for a record suspension, you will need to have served your sentence and demonstrated the ability to act as a law-abiding citizen for several years. If you are convicted of a summary offence, the minimum number of years before you can apply for a record suspension is 5, whereas you need to wait 10 years before you can apply for a record suspension with an indictable offence.
There are laws in Canada that protect a person who has received a record suspension from discriination or any of the other consequences of a criminal record. Employers, landlords, and other individuals are only permitted to ask about criminal records that have not been suspended, making it far easier to find housing and employment after you’ve received a record suspension.
McGlashan and Company can help you avoid a criminal record altogether. Brian McGlashan has been a criminal defence lawyer in Alberta for almost 30 years. His experience will help you find the best result in a criminal court. If you’ve been charged for a criminal offence, trust Brian McGlashan.