The short answer to “how long does a criminal record last in Canada?” is simple.
Until your 80th birthday, or longer.
If you are convicted of summary conviction offences (less serious, even some minor offences) or indictable offences (more serious offences, including some drug offences), the convictions result in the creation of a criminal record.
Your Criminal Record is Not Public
Family, friends and neighbours have no way of knowing if you have a criminal record unless you tell them. Your Canadian criminal record includes details about your criminal offence conviction(s), your photograph and your fingerprints, among other information. A digital version of the record is held in a national RCMP database.
Who Has Access to Your Criminal Record
Law enforcement officers, including police and border services officers, judges and other legal and government officials have access to the RCMP database that holds your criminal record.
Businesses and organizations may get a criminal record check of current and potential employees.
The result is that your criminal record might affect your ability to travel outside of Canada, find a job, or even volunteer for a charity.
A Record Suspension Seals Your Criminal Record
Fortunately for anyone who has a criminal record in Canada, they may apply for a record suspension, formerly known as a pardon. A record suspension seals your record and eliminates the restrictions you might otherwise face in finding work or travelling.
Your criminal record still exists even after you are granted a record suspension, but it remains sealed at least until you receive another conviction.
How Long You Must Wait to Apply for a Record Suspension
You must wait a certain period of time from the date your sentence expires before you can apply for a record suspension. The waiting period is five years for summary convictions and 10 years for conviction by indictment.
But, even after the waiting period, you can still wait for months or years for your application to be properly assembled and processed. And that’s if you don’t make a mistake, which means you have to start all over. That’s why it’s important to hire legal professionals who specialize in record suspensions, like those at X-Copper, who can make sure a record suspension application is processed as fast as possible.
To learn more about summary and indictable offences, check out our article “Impaired Driving Causing Bodily Harm: Sentences & Charges”.