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A critical step in preparing a record suspension application for submission to the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) involves the collection of court records. Don’t confuse court records with criminal records; certified criminal records are obtained by digital submission of fingerprints to the Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services (CCRTIS) national repository of fingerprints and criminal record information in Ottawa. Court records are retrieved after a verbal or written request is made directly to the court in which your case was heard.

Should your court no longer have your records (the retention schedules for such documents varies from court to court and province to province) an affidavit indicating all fines, surcharges and costs have been satisfied can be signed, dated and included with the submission along with an original letter from the court explaining they no longer have records “…due to our retention schedule.” Often times the letter will also include a statement indicating there are no outstanding fines.

Without court records there is no way of knowing if the charge was a summary conviction or an indictable offence which will cause the PBC to assume the offence was indictable which triggers the 10 year waiting period. That would not be a problem for someone who is 15 or 20 years removed from the end of their sentence. Someone who is 7 years removed from the end of their sentence and finds there are no existing court records, would have to wait a further 3 years before applying for a record suspension. Because of this anomaly in the system, Impact Pardons Plus (IPP) strongly advises everyone to get -and keep safe- a copy of their court records within a month or two of being sentenced. That way you have them when you need them.

A word or two about fines… Judges often hand down fines as part of the sentence. When paying the fine make sure it is paid in full. Sometimes a fine includes a Victim Surcharge Fee (VSF) of 10% or court costs. Make sure the court clerk includes everything and get a receipt for your payment(s). Pay it off sooner rather than later and be aware that courts do not send bills or invoices for fines not paid. Nor do they hire collection agencies. It is very important that you ensure your fines, surcharges, costs, restitution and compensation orders have all been satisfied because your 5 or 10 year waiting period begins after all parts of your sentence have been settled.

IPP is sorry to write that it has happened more than a few times a client has had to be told their sentence has not yet been completed due to outstanding fines. Most say they forgot about paying as, “…they moved away” or, “…never received a bill”. Most say they will pay it, “…right now”, but paying today only means their sentence is complete. Once the fine is paid, then the 5 or 10 year waiting period begins.

In real world terms, a sentence of 6 months’ probation and a $200 fine for a summary offence handed down in June, 2004, means a record suspension (formally pardon) cannot be started before March, 2020 if the fine is paid today. What a terrible shock and disappointment it is for someone to hear that when they were expecting to put everything behind them by mid 2016.

If you know someone who has a criminal record, let them know they can type Impact Pardons into Google which could lead them to, “… a better tomorrow, today.”

Let me know what you think.

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