What is a Criminal Record?

A criminal record is essentially a file the RCMP keeps that contains information about an individual’s criminal conviction history. A criminal record is imposed when an offender pleads guilty to a crime or is found guilty after trial and receives a sentence other than an absolute or conditional discharge. A criminal conviction will remain on a person’s criminal record until they apply for and receive a record suspension (also known as a pardon). A criminal record can have a profoundly consequential impact on several major aspects of a person’s life.

The possible effects of a criminal record on Employment

A criminal record can negatively affect employment prospects. Potential employers may require criminal background checks before hiring a potential candidate. The presence of a criminal record may result in an employer rejecting a candidate for various reasons. Indeed, depending on the crime a person was convicted of, they may be legally prevented from working in certain fields like education and the financial sector. Similarly, they may be legally prevented from working for organizations that interact with vulnerable populations like children and seniors.

Potential Concerns for Members of a Professional Order

For those whose employment is regulated by a professional order, legal requirements may govern the effects of a criminal record (or even just a criminal charge) on those professions. For example, the Collège des médecins and the Organisme d’autoréglementation du courtage immobilier du Québec are two common professional orders that may require that their members avoid criminal records or at the very least inform them of judicial outcomes. Therefore, a criminal record could very well prevent someone from working in their desired field.

Travelling to the United States with a criminal record

For Canadians travelling to the United States, a criminal record may impact the ability to cross the border and enter the United States. While the American government does not explicitly prevent entry by Canadian citizens from entering the United States, the presence of a criminal record can affect entry, and a waiver may be required.

The impact of a criminal record on an immigration application

A criminal record could greatly affect one’s ability to immigrate to Canada (or other countries). In certain cases, if someone is a refugee or in Canada on just a work visa or student permit, a criminal conviction could result in their deportation. Similarly, if a Canadian citizen intends to sponsor someone to come to Canada, a criminal record may affect their ability to do so.

How to Avoid a Criminal Record if You’re Found Guilty

A criminal record can be avoided even in the event of a finding of guilt. For instance, based on the circumstances of the case and a person’s individual profile, the file might be able to be resolved by way of a peace bond or through being accorded an absolute or conditional discharge (where there is a finding of guilt but no conviction is registered so there is no criminal record).

Of course, discharges are unavailable for many Criminal Code infractions because they either carry mandatory minimum sentences or a maximum sentence of 14 years or more or are simply unlikely to be imposed due to the objective gravity of the accusation. However, numerous offences are eligible for a discharge. Given the serious consequences of a criminal record for a first-time offender, it is absolutely vital that no stone is left unturned to resolve the file so that a criminal conviction can be avoided.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence and are concerned about the impact of a criminal record, contact us today to learn how we can guide you through this challenging time. We are fully prepared to take on your case. Let’s get started!