Canadian Pardons described by the Parole Board of Canada

‘A pardon allows people who were convicted of a criminal offence, but have completed their sentence and demonstrated they are law-abiding citizens for a prescribed number of years, to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records.’

If we break that statement down:

1) You must have been convicted in a court of law and been sentenced. Most criminal code crimes are considered Hybrid Offences. This means the case could be dealt with as a Summary Offence (for less severe crimes) or as an Indictable Offence (more severe crimes).

The following is a quick review of the more common charges:

Summary Offenses
Indictable Offenses
Simple assault
Causing bodily harm
Simple possession
Possession for the purpose of trafficking
Breach of probation
Breaking and entering
Driving while impaired
Theft under $500
Theft over $5000
Fail to appear
Trafficking in narcotics


2)You have completed your sentence. This means all fines, surcharges, compensation orders have been paid in full; parole and probation orders have been met. Once these are complete, those convicted of a summary offence must wait 5 years to apply for a pardon and those convicted of an indictable offence must wait 10 years to apply.

If you were sentenced with an absolute or conditional discharge, you do not need to apply for a pardon. If you have more than one conviction that does not pertain to an absolute or conditional discharge, you must apply for a pardon to have those removed.

3) Since the changes to the Pardons Act in 2010, the pardon application now includes a personal review of the offence and why/how it occurred as well as a review of your current situation. Hence, you must show you have been a law-abiding citizen for the last 5 or 10 years required to apply.

4) When your pardon is granted, all information pertaining to your conviction will be removed from CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre). Thus, no agency (including police and customs) can access that information without written permission from the Parole Board of Canada. As well, the Canadian Human Rights Act states no business in Canada (including crown corporations and the armed forces) can ask any question that would require an applicant to disclose a pardoned conviction.