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Applying for a Canadian pardon: Should you hire a lawyer?

If you are Canadian and you have a criminal record, you may find yourself wanting to file a Canadian pardon application. Now known as a record suspension, a pardon can give you back some of the freedoms you may have lost when you were convicted. You may ask yourself: Do I really need to hire a lawyer to help me with my pardon application? Can’t I just do it myself? To answer that, it’s necessary to first examine what the pardon process actually entails. From there, you can determine whether it is something you can handle yourself or whether you might benefit from the help of a lawyer.

The first thing to understand is what a pardon actually means. When you are granted a pardon, your criminal record is essentially “sealed off” from the rest of the database held by the Canadian Police Information Centre, the organization that keeps records of all criminal activity in the country. What a pardon does not do is erase or nullify the conviction.

Canadian pardon

Virtually anyone who has been convicted of a criminal offense in Canada can apply for a pardon. The only stipulation is that you must wait until a predetermined ineligibility period has elapsed (the duration of which depends upon the nature of your crime and other factors). Exceptions include those who have been sentenced to life imprisonment. As soon as your ineligibility period elapses, you can apply for a pardon.

To qualify to be granted a pardon, you must meet the following critieria:

You must have served your full sentence and the ineligibility period must have elapsed

You must submit a correctly prepared application package, including all necessary supporting documents, to the Parole Board

You have lived a changed life since your sentence has been carried out. This includes no further criminal activity and a generally honest, good life.

There is no court process involved in the pardon application process. You do not have to go before a court, a judge, or any other body to prove anything regarding your remorse or rehabilitation or anything of the sort. You only have to meet the above-mentioned standard criteria and provide all of the necessary documentation. Therefore, the services of a lawyer are not strictly necessary. You do not need a lawyer, for example, to argue your case before a court or to call witnesses to testify to your character as a rehabilitated convict.

That being said, one of the most important and critical parts of the application process is the proper preparation of forms and gathering of documentation. That can be a very daunting part of the process for the average person to manage. This is where a lawyer can be an enormous help. The downside of that is that lawyers can be expensive. Instead of going that route, why not enlist the services of a company that specializes in pardon applications? Such agencies do nothing else but help people apply for pardons and, as such, they are true experts. They know inside and out what you need to do and how to go about it.

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