How a criminal record can impact your life

One wrong turn can cost you dearly and follow you for life, regardless of the nature of the offense, whether driving under the influence, theft, sexual assault, fraud, drug possession or another violation.

If you’ve been accused of violating federal law and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has taken your fingerprints, you have a criminal record, which can have serious consequences. Let’s take a closer look at the impact a criminal record can have on your life.

Consequences on multiple fronts

The existence of a criminal record can interfere with your job search, even if, in theory, it’s not supposed to be used as a cause for dismissal or for rejecting an application if the violation isn’t related to the employment in question.

For example, if you’ve been found guilty of fraud, your chances of finding employment in the financial sector are slim. On the other hand, a drug conviction shouldn’t conflict with a job in communications. It all depends on the relationship between the violation and the position. The rules are even stricter when the job entails working in close proximity with vulnerable populations, such as children or seniors. In any case, your employer may require police clearance.

On the other hand, you could be the victim of discrimination. While it’s strongly recommended not to lie about your background, a criminal record can lead to mistrust on the part of a potential employer and prevent you from getting the position you want. You should be aware that, if you believe you’ve been the victim of discrimination, you have the right to file a complaint.

The question of lodging should also be taken into consideration. A landlord effectively has the right to refuse to lease you an apartment based on your criminal record without running any risk of being charged with discrimination.

An insurance company can also refuse to cover you. Even at the risk of paying a higher premium, it is better not to lie about your criminal record because, if the truth comes out, your insurer could decide to cancel your policy or refuse to pay a claim.

Additionally, a criminal record could prevent you from traveling in certain countries. The travel advisories issued by the Canadian government will inform you regarding the regulations in the countries you’re interested in visiting. The United States is particularly strict when it comes to travelers with criminal records, regardless of the length of their stay. You could even be denied a layover at a US airport. Drug crimes tend to inspire more mistrust than other types of offenses. United States customs agents have the right to exercise their discretion as to whether they allow you to enter the country or not. Before traveling to the United States, consult Criminal Lawyer Martine Thibodeau, who’s eminently qualified to inform you of the many nuances of US law.

Suspension and discharge

A discharge means that a judge has decided not to impose a sentence on someone, even after that person has been found guilty. In the case of a conditional discharge, the person is put on probation, which involves submitting to certain conditions for a given period.

After a certain amount of time, your criminal record will be expunged, allowing you to cross the border into the United States. The length of time can range from one year in the case of an absolute discharge to three years after the end of the probationary period in the case of a conditional discharge, as long as these discharges were granted before July 24, 1992. If you were discharged before that date, you must fill out a Request to Purge Absolute and/or Conditional Discharge and send the completed form to the RCMP to have the information expunged from your record. You can also submit an Application for No-Disclosure of Information Contained in Computerized Records in Criminal Matters to request that your information be removed from the public record.

Previously referred to as an application for pardon, suspension of a criminal record occurs through a paid procedure that limits access to your criminal record, not by erasing it but, rather, by maintaining it in a sealed court registry. However, traces of it will remain elsewhere. Suspensions aren’t recognized by US authorities; however, the officials may allow you to enter the country if you present a waiver.

To learn more, contact Martine Thibodeau, an experienced attorney who has been a member of the bar since 1990.

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