Though most pardons are for minor crimes, Canadians can be given pardons, or record suspensions, for many serious crimes — in the most recent year, pardons were granted for manslaughter, kidnapping, attempted murder, hostage-taking and arson with disregard for human life, among other things.
A senior RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) officer wrote, “When a Canadian is pardoned, the RCMP finds out whether U.S. border officials have looked up the person’s criminal file. If they have, the RCMP sends them a notification of the pardon, without saying what the original crime was, and asks them to destroy any records of their own they might have created over the years.
If that’s taken literally, though, all the U.S. now knows is that the person has some kind of criminal past. And for minor offenders, that can make their situation and means of travel more difficult.
Global News asked the Parole Board of Canada what can be done for people in this situation.
The board referred the question to the RCMP, which didn’t directly answer it. “The RCMP does not comment on hypothetical scenarios or specific cases,” Cpl. Caroline Duval wrote in an email.
What Happens If a Person Has Not Received a Pardon but Has a Criminal Record?
If a person tried entering the USA before receiving a Pardon or RS, and the CBP officer discovered the criminal record information during a routine screening, then the information would be downloaded into the American computer system. The criminal record information will stay in their system even after the individual obtains a Pardon or RS or otherwise removes the criminal record in Canada. From then on, the American Officials can easily access the information and will use it to deny the individual entry to the United States, unless a USA Entry Waiver is obtained.
How Likely Am I to Be Granted a Pardon/Record Suspension?
If you have waited the requisite time period (5, or 10 years) after the sentence imposed was completed, and if you have all the proper supporting documents and have been of good conduct, the federal government will grant you a pardon/record suspension. Pardons/Record Suspensions are not granted if you have a sexual offence against a minor or if you have more than 3 convictions where you received sentencing with more than 2 years jail-time.