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What makes a person eligible for a Canadian criminal pardon? Is it the minor nature of their past crime(s)? Their spotless record of conduct since their arrest and sentencing? That they completed their full sentence term and parole? In truth, it's a little of all these things. Whether the person looking for a pardon is a shoplifter or convicted of manslaughter, under the current law anyone who has been convicted of an offence under the federal law can apply. However, the law has recently been tightening in regards to restricting the granting of pardons. There have long been rumblings for the Canadian legal system to tighten up its laws in regards to the punishment of criminals and last year the Harper government took it upon themselves to do just that. Bill C-23 was drafted to change the Canadian pardon system into the Canadian record suspension system and was split into two parts - C-23A was passed last year in June and C-23B is currently being deliberated in parliament. So before C-23B passes, what is required to get a Canadian criminal pardon? There are three types of offences in Canada of which you can be convicted - summary offences, hybrid offences and indictable offences. Summary offences are the least serious, including being charged with soliciting the services of a prostitute and petty theft. They are tried only by a judge, and people who have been charged with a serious summary offence (such as certain sexual offences or kinds of assault) are eligible to apply for a pardon five years after their sentence and parole is up (Bill C-23A having raised the waiting period from three years). Less serious summary offences are still able to wait only three years before applying for a pardon. The second type of offence is the hybrid offence, which means the Crown can decide to try the crime either as a serious indictable offence or as a more minor summary offence. Hybrid crimes include driving impaired and assaulting an officer and are eligible to apply for a pardon depending on which level of severity they were tried at. Indictable crimes are the most serious crimes, only ones such as manslaughter and serious sexual assaults eligible for pardons. They are tried by a judge or jury, and are eligible for a Canadian pardon ten years after their full sentence is complete - Bill C-23A having raised the waiting period by five years! After the waiting period - lengthened by C-23A - is up, the person can apply for their Canadian criminal pardon. However, it is unlikely to get accepted unless one has also been "of good conduct" in the previous years leading up to the application and one can prove that having a pardon is completely necessary for advancing their rehabilitation and life. That being said, the benefits of reintegrating the person into society by allowing them to pass standard criminal record checks when applying for jobs, insurance or volunteer positions, undoubtedly counts as necessary for advancing their rehabilitation. The exception to these rules are people applying for criminal

pardons who have been convicted of indictable sexual offences - their applications are reviewed by two Parole officials instead of one and include a lot of heavy police consultation which is not done for everyone else. Also, sex offenders are still red-flagged when applying for work or volunteer positions with "vulnerable" persons such as children or the disabled - pardon or no pardon.

Heather J. Matthews is a writer for Canadian Pardons, a national company which specializes in helping its clients get Canadian criminal pardons.

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Eligibility for a Criminal Pardon in Canada.txt  

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