Businesses and countries have slowly begun to open up to welcome people back after the first several months of COVID-19. Travel is now permitted in many cases, but still discouraged. However, if you’re thinking of travelling, will you be able to do so with a criminal record? 

The same question also applies if you’re applying for a new job. It is common for employers to run a background check, especially if you’re applying to a vulnerable sector. Not only do criminal records can stand in the way of your progress through life, they carry a stigma. 

This means that loved ones may not look at you the same way, and you may find difficulty adopting or retaining custody of your child.

A Sicotte & Sandhu criminal defence lawyer can do two things for you: First, it can prevent you from getting that criminal record in the first place. But second, a criminal defence lawyer can provide you with the answers you need related to an existing criminal record, including what to expect from a background check (also called police record checks) in Canada.

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Requesting a Criminal Record Check

There are different levels of and reasons for criminal record checks in British Columbia, so the information you will receive back may vary.

According to the province’s website, when a criminal record check confirms the existence of a record, the following information can be made available:

  • A statement that a record exists
  • Personal information and conviction history
  • A complete record check listing personal information and conviction history, including charges that were dropped.

In order for someone to do a criminal record check, they will need your permission. If you are requesting your own criminal record check, you will be asked to provide valid identification.

It’s standard practice for adult criminal records in Canada to be erased after 80 years or, depending on the case, 100 years. The criminal record of a young offender can be sealed after a certain amount of time has passed, but only if they have not committed any offences as an adult during that time period. 

However, should they commit an offence before their young offender conviction can be sealed, it will become part of their adult criminal record, and therefore, show up on a criminal record check. This can be problematic if the young offender tries to get a job as a delivery person or taxi driver, and they have DUI charges. Even driving offences, though they aren’t criminal offences, can also cause issues when applying to these types of jobs. If you’ve been charged or need assistance after gaining a criminal record, speak with a knowledgeable lawyer.

Vulnerable Sector Checks

The vulnerable sector includes jobs connected to children and vulnerable adults, such as elderly individuals in a rest home. Vulnerable sector checks serve as a protection. They’re also mandatory, according to the Criminal Records Review Act, because individuals will be unsupervised with children and adults in areas, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Dentist offices
  • Daycares
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Volunteer programs

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It will be up to the hiring staff to decide whether or not you are a high risk for the vulnerable sector based on your criminal record charges, especially if they include assault or sexual assault. Certain charges will prevent you from working in the vulnerable sector, such as:

  • Physical or sexual abuse of children
  • Physical or sexual abuse of vulnerable adults
  • Financial abuse of vulnerable adults

The Criminal Records Review Act doesn’t apply to all volunteer organizations, so the not-for-profit ones normally do vulnerable sector checks through the Criminal Record Review Program. For-profit organizations go to their local police to conduct vulnerable sector checks.

Certified Criminal Record Checks

A certified criminal check is more involved than a regular check. It requires fingerprints from an authorized agency or the police. This type of criminal record check is required for:

  • Adoptions
  • Citizenship
  • Visa applications
  • Work permits

Requests for certified criminal background checks can be made through the local police or RCMP detachment. If you need to submit your fingerprints for criminal record checks, it will take up to three business days for your employer or other organization to receive the results if you don’t have a record. If you do have a record, it can take up to 120 business days for the results to return.

Fingerprints continue to be a vital part of criminal record checks since they’re a unique identifier. They’re also still part of the arrest and booking process. Today, fingerprinting can be done with digital scanners and are sent electronically to the RCMP’s secure database, so criminal record checks are completed much faster. The traditional method of using ink and paper for fingerprinting is still used as an alternative in some cases.

A certified criminal record check has a $25 mandatory fee for federal processing. In some cases, the fee is waived, such as if you’re applying for citizenship or the Canadian police.

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Record Suspensions in Canada

You may have heard of a pardon, but the formal term is now a record suspension. The government grants record suspensions to permanently separate criminal records from public view when accessing the national criminal record database. It’s important to note that a record that is sealed off is not erased; it still exists, but not in the public domain. People who wish to gain access to your criminal record will need your written permission or that of the Public Safety Minister of Canada.

A record suspension ensures that everything associated with you—criminal convictions and non-convictions—remain sealed from the public, so you can  get a new job more easily, find a new home, travel, possibly work in a vulnerable sector, and gain custody of a child. In terms of travelling, you will also require a U.S. Waiver to enter the United States.

Applying for a record suspension is a lengthy process which involves both the police and government agencies, so it would be in your best interest to consult with us about getting one so you can make sure it is done correctly and taken care of quickly.

Your Lawyers in British Columbia

Whether or not you have a criminal record, Sicotte & Sandhu Criminal Defence Lawyers will help you navigate any legal issues related to your charges and criminal record.  We represent people when they’ve been charged with DUI, sexual assault, assault, and more.

We’ve also helped many people avoid having a criminal record and instead, gaining less severe consequences, such as community service. Our team is here to help you regain some of the normalcy of your life before you were charged.

If you have questions about how to get a police check, contact us today!