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Erasing a Criminal Record in Canada

Article by kevn smith

Expungement (also called “purging”) is a court-ordered process in which the legal record of an arrest or a criminal conviction is “sealed” (removed from certain sections of the database where it is stored) or erased in the eyes of the law. The availability of this process depends on type of violation, criminal history and laws of the state or county in which the arrest or conviction occurred.

Expungement is very useful process for people who want to make a new start. For example if your criminal record was purged you don’t need to mention it in a job application with all the other data like education or working experience. Your potential employer, educational institution, or other company will also have no possibility to find your criminal record with a public search. So after a record was purged you don’t need to mention it anywhere.

The criminal records in Canada are stored in Criminal Records Information Management Services (CRIMS). CRIMS is a large centralized database founded in 1972 and operated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) under the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). This database holds all the information required for police investigations like all convictions for which a pardon has not been granted, all charges regardless of disposition, outstanding warrants and charges, all judicial orders and other information.

In Canada it is possible to completely remove a criminal record. It is called purging and the conditions of purging a record depend on the type of the case.

1. Criminal Code Offences with a DispositionIn most of such cases it is possible to purge a criminal record, when the person turns eighty years old and there has been no criminal activity reported in the previous 10 years, still there are some exceptions. If the person was sentenced to life, was classified as a dangerous offender or is still under a court ordered sentence. In each of these instances, the record is kept until: the sentence is complete and the person has been crime free for 10 years, the person is 100 years old or there is confirmation that the person is deceased.

2. Criminal Code Offences with no Disposition (Stays, Withdrawn Charges and Acquittals)In this type of case the charged person makes a request to the charging police service and asks to have the record purged.

3. Alternative Measures Programs (Diversion Programs)As an alternative way in this case the information is not entered into the CPIC database. Nevertheless information related to charges is entered but subsequently dealt with by a diversion program and is purged from the CPIC database.

4. Discharges (Absolute and Conditional)The cases that have absolute discharge are purged from system after one year, the cases with conditional discharges are purged within three years.

5. PardonsIf the defendant is pardoned his or her records are purged from the part of CPIC that is accessible by police and moved to a part that is available to certain people only.

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