What are the Consequences of a Criminal Record?

A Criminal Record is a police record that lists a person’s past Criminal Convictions. It may also include court records, non-convictions (withdrawn charges, discharges, acquittals) and other pieces of information regarding contact with police (fingerprints, 911 calls, photographs, etc.). Therefore, even though a non-conviction is not a technically a “criminal” record, it can be a part of the local police record and may show up on a Criminal Record search.

There is no one set definition of a ‘Criminal Record’ and a Criminal Record Check can include any of the above pieces of information. A Criminal Conviction will always result in a Criminal Record, but a non-conviction may also show up. The information that is disclosed depends on the level of the check being conducted, as well as the policies of the local police service regarding whether or not to disclose non-conviction records and other information. The most comprehensive Criminal Record Check includes searching the databases of local police services, the national databank of the Canadian Information Police Centre (CPIC), and may also include a search of court records. This is called a Police Information Check. Other types of searches might only look into active criminal files and convictions for which pardons have not been granted.

If you are worried about what information shows up on your Criminal Record, you may request an information check with your local police, and ask for the most detailed record they provide. This would give you an idea on what information might be provided on your Criminal Record Check.

If you are concerned about information regarding non-convictions showing up, you can always apply to have your non-conviction record destroyed. Such an application can be made with the Toronto Police Services one year after the conclusion of your matter. If accepted, the police would remove mention of the non-conviction from your record and would destroy fingerprints or photographs associated with the matter.

If you were Discharged, the RCMP automatically removes mention of your non-conviction from the CPIC after one year for an Absolute Discharge, and after three years for a Conditional Discharge. Some mention of the Discharge may remain in your local police record, but you can apply to have these removed as well after the corresponding time period.

Having a complete understanding of the Elements of the Criminal OffenceYour Rights and the Consequences associated with a Criminal Record is necessary before any legal decisions are made. Certain offences such AssaultsSexual AssaultsTheftFraud and Drinking and Driving allegations are common charges where people frequently plead guilty impulsively.

Legal Information

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Employment Consequences of having a Criminal Record?
What are the Travel Consequences of having a Criminal Record?
What are the Consequences of having a Criminal Record for ongoing Immigration Applications?
What are the potential Consequences of having Assault on my Criminal Record?
What is a Pardon/Record Suspension?

What are the Employment Consequences of having a Criminal Record?

It is hard to predict what the employment consequences for having a Criminal Record might be. This area of law is very fact specific to each individual case and the outcomes vary. There are many variables involved, such as whether or not you were convicted, the seriousness of your crime, the terms of your employment contract, your line of work, etc.

An employer may terminate an employee with cause or without cause. With cause termination essentially means that the employer does not have to provide the employee with a severance package upon termination. It is one of the most severe measures an employer can take, and is therefore only allowed in limited circumstances. On the other hand, termination without cause means that the employer has to provide the employee with a notice period or pay instead of notice (severance).

If you have not been convicted of a criminal offence, but still have something on your Criminal Record (charge, discharge, withdrawn charge, etc.), an employer can terminate your employment without cause (i.e. with a severance package). An employer will only be able to fire an employee with cause (i.e. no severance payment) in very limited circumstances. This is usually restricted to cases where the employee’s alleged criminal conduct is connected to the employment relationship, or the type of work he or she does. For example, if a person’s job involves contact with children and he or she is charged with possessing child pornography. Again, regardless of whether there is just cause, employers are generally able to terminate your employment without cause even if you are not convicted. This means the employee can be put on paid leave, or fired with a severance payment or notice period, even if he or she is not convicted.

The situation is similar if you are convicted of a crime. The circumstances where your employment can be terminated with cause are usually limited to convictions for crimes that are connected to your employment relationship or line of work. Nevertheless, a conviction can result in termination without cause, meaning a severance package would be required.

In addition to these scenarios, the Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination on the basis of a criminal offense for which a pardon has been given. As such, employers cannot fire employees on the grounds of a criminal conviction for which they have a pardon.

What are the Travel Consequences of having a Criminal Record?

If you have a Criminal Record, you may be denied entry into a country. Whether or not this happens depends on the law of the country you are trying to enter, the criminal offences you have on your record, and the length of time that has passed since your offences. Since laws vary between countries, it is best to contact the embassy or consulate of the country you wish to travel to, and check whether you will be denied entry due to your Criminal Record.

The most common destination for Canadian travellers is the United States. The law in the US does not allow entry for people who have been convicted of a crime of “moral turpitude”. While there is no exhaustive list of which crimes are considered to be of “moral turpitude”, some common examples include murder, theft, fraud, and aggravated assault. Some examples of crimes that would not be included are simple assault, driving under the influence, disorderly conduct, and breaking and entering. Nevertheless, each case is different and whether or not you are allowed entry depends on the specifics of your crime and how long ago it was committed. For example, if you have several convictions for Simple Assault, this could prevent you from entering the US. On the other hand, if the assault was committed a long time ago, it will likely not prevent you from travelling to the US. If you are worried whether you will be denied entry due to your Criminal Record, you can contact US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), or apply for a US Entry Waiver. For more information on this, see Travel Implications and US Waiver.

Furthermore, since the CBP has access to the RCMP’s database for criminal records, your name may appear on a Criminal Record search even if you have not been convicted (e.g. if you have been charged). As such, you may want to check your Criminal Record with your local police service to see what information appears on a report. In some cases, non-convictions (i.e. acquittals, withdrawn charges, discharges) may be enough for the CBP to deny you entry. Again, the situations vary and it is best to contact the CBP to inquire whether your Record would prevent you from travelling to the US.

What are the Consequences of having a Criminal Record for ongoing Immigration Applications?

The exact consequences depend on your current status in Canada (i.e. permanent resident, refugee, etc) and the specifics of your record. The consequences range from slowing down your citizenship application to deportation from Canada.

If you have been convicted of a more serious criminal offence such as Aggravated Assault, your permanent residence status may be stripped and you could be deported. A conviction for a less serious offense such as Simple Assault could mean that your ongoing citizenship application is put on hold, delayed, or even denied. If you have not been convicted, but were charged, you probably still have a Criminal Record (see What is a Criminal Record). Although having a criminal record without having a conviction on it is less serious, it could still adversely affect your citizenship application.

What are the potential Consequences of having Assault on my Criminal Record?

The consequences vary greatly depending on the specifics of your offence and your record. If you have a record despite not having a conviction, it is less likely that your record will impact you negatively. However, there still may be consequences. For example if your charge of Assault has been Withdrawn or you have been Discharged, this may still show up on your Criminal Record search. If your employer finds out about your charge, they may in some cases terminate your employment, but can only do so if they provide you with a severance package and notice period. However, your employer could only find out if they did a search, and you are generally not required to disclose to them any ongoing charges, unless they pertain to your line of work or if your employment contract stipulates it.

A previous charge (without a conviction) might also hinder your travel plans. However, this is not very common, especially if your charge was for a less serious offence, such as Simple Assault, instead of a more serious offense like Aggravated Assault. If you are travelling to the US, the law there only prohibits entry for people who have a conviction for a crime of moral turpitude. For assault-related offences, this does not include Simple Assault, but does include the more serious assault offences. Although US law states that only those with a conviction will be denied entry, there have been a few cases of people with non-conviction records being prohibited from entering.

If your criminal record is for a conviction of Assault, the consequences are more serious. If you are a permanent or temporary resident with ongoing immigration applications, your application will be put on hold. In the more serious cases, you may even be deported. This is more common in cases where there is a conviction for a serious offence, like Aggravated Assault, and the offender is a temporary resident.

A conviction may also cause you to lose your job. In many cases, an employer will still not be able to fire you without a severance package, but in the more grave cases, they may be able to terminate you without any pay.

Lastly, a conviction for an assault offence more serious than Simple Assault will prevent you from travelling to the US and many other countries, especially the UK, Australia, and the EU.

The best thing to do if you have a conviction for Assault is to begin taking steps to assure you have the best possible chance to obtain a Record Suspension. See below for more information on Record Suspensions.

What is a Pardon/Record Suspension?

A Record Suspension, formerly known as a Pardon, allows a person who has been convicted of an offense, has served their sentence, and demonstrated that they have been a law-abiding citizen for a number of years, to have their Criminal Record be kept separate and apart from other Criminal Records. You can only apply for a record suspension 5 years after the completion of your sentence for a summary conviction offense, and 10 years after the completion of a sentence for an indictable offense (which includes all assault-related offenses).

A person who has obtained a Record Suspension does not have to live with many of the consequences of having a Criminal Record. Under Canada’s Human Rights Code, discrimination on the basis of a Criminal Record for which a Pardon has been granted is prohibited. For example, when seeking employment, your potential employer can only ask you if you have any convictions for which you do not have a Pardon; not for a conviction for which you do have a pardon. Therefore, it is a lot easier to find employment once you have a Record Suspension.

In terms of immigration applications, a permanent resident with a Record Suspension cannot be deemed inadmissible to Canada for the conviction relating to the Record Suspension. Obtaining a pardon would allow you to begin or continue with your immigration application.

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