What is a criminal record?
A criminal record is a document that lists a person’s criminal and penal convictions pronounced by the courts of Canada in accordance with federal laws such as the Criminal Code of Canada. However, violating a traffic rule of the Quebec Highway Safety Code is not a criminal offence and would not result in a criminal record. In fact, offences to provincial penal laws do not result in criminal records.
When you are convicted of a crime, that conviction may have effects that stick with you for years to come. It can affect what kind of job you may get, where you can go to school, as well as other things. If you have a criminal record, it is important to fully understand what that means. Never hesitate to ask questions of your lawyer or your probation officer. Many youth believe their criminal record is wiped clean when they are eighteen. THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY TRUE. Changes in the law have made it more difficult to leave your record behind and get on with your life. If you have committed a less serious crime, your record will be sealed. This means you don’t have to tell anyone except a judge that you have been convicted of a crime as a youth. So, employers won’t be able to find this out. What crimes are serious and less serious?
Certain types of criminal convictions can result in the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. The most common example of this is the DUI case. Other types of cases, such as drug cases, can affect your driver’s license too. A criminal conviction can also affect a person’s ability to obtain or keep virtually every professional license that is regulated by the state. Some professions require that the crime be related to the duties of the profession before the license will be affected; others simply require the crime to be one of “moral turpitude.”
Following are classes of crimes:
If you were convicted of a Class A crime (Murder, Attempted Murder, Arson 1, Assault 1, Robbery 1), or a “sex crime” you will never be able to seal your record.
If you were convicted of a Class B crime (Possession of Stolen Property, Burglary, Sale of Drugs, Theft 1), you must wait 10 years, and not be convicted of another crime in order to seal your record.
If you were convicted of a Class C crime (Forgery, Possession of a Firearm, Taking of Motor Vehicle without Owner’s Possession), you must wait 5 years, and not be convicted of another crime in order to seal your record.
If you were convicted of a crime for which you had to only perform public service or take a class, your record will be sealed when you are eighteen. There are many factors at work in the case of the professional who is accused of crime; it is critical that the advice of a competent, creative, and insightful defense attorney be considered, since a conviction can have ramifications far beyond the case itself.
There are several disadvantages to having a criminal record:
A criminal record may harm your chances of getting a job in certain fields (e.g.: jobs related to security, finance, etc.);
A criminal record may cause serious hassles while traveling. In fact, to obtain a visa to enter some countries, you must prove that you do not have a criminal record. For example, the United States will deny entry to tourists or immigrants who have criminal records for some criminal offences: polygamy, prostitution, drug trafficking, spying, etc.;
If you have a criminal record, and you are convicted of another crime, you will most likely be punished more severely than a person who does not have any previous convictions;
A criminal record may prevent you from joining a professional order, from obtaining licenses or permits, or from getting certain insurance policies.
We have all made mistakes in our lives. But for some people those mistakes come with the penalty of a criminal record filed by the RCMP, the courts and any local police involved when the charges were laid. The result is a detailed trail of criminal activity, which permanently labels the person as such, even if no subsequent criminal behavior is ever committed.
We live in a society that encourages us to constantly improve ourselves. We are told to make changes when life choices have not worked out. We are educated to better ourselves, to be more responsible and productive and to become more useful members of society in general. But how to do that when a criminal record is forever telling the world of your past? It is particularly in terms of employment that we are evaluated on our personal history. In a job interview what you have done defines who you are.
A history of criminal activity not only creates restrictions on employment. It also affects travel to the United States, job advancement, volunteer work, child custody and adoption, ability to be bonded, personal credibility, peace of mind and more. Many job opportunities are simply not available to persons with a criminal record. The existence of any criminal record, no matter how insignificant it may seem, is a negative label and a disadvantage in life. Furthermore, a file will exist even in cases where the person was found not-guilty in court.
Criminal convictions listed on a criminal record often stigmatize a person. Not long ago, a person’s criminal record stayed with him for life. Today, however, you can obtain a pardon for your offences. To do so, you must demonstrate your best behavior and avoid any criminal convictions for a specified period of time after you have served your sentence.