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Clearing a Criminal Record in Canada: A Complete Guide



Clearing a Criminal Record in Canada

Around 3.8 Canadians are currently living with a criminal record – so if you’ve got one, you’re in good company! This is a record you receive when you are convicted of a crime. It records the details of your conviction and the penalties you faced (such as jail time, probation, or fines.) 

Federal, provincial, and municipal bodies all hold a copy of these records. However, anyone doing a background check on you can access information about them. This can make it very difficult for people with a criminal record to pass employment and travel checks.

Thankfully, it is possible to clear your criminal records in a few simple steps. Want to know more? Then you’ve come to the right place! 

Read on to find out everything you need to know about clearing a criminal record in Canada.

Benefits of Clearing a Criminal Record

In your day-to-day life, having a criminal record might not affect you that much.

Depending on your conviction, there may be certain limitations on places that you can go or where you can live. But your record won’t affect activities such as shopping for groceries, exercising, and seeing friends or family.

However, it can stand in the way of certain opportunities including: 

  • Applying for a new job
  • Volunteering 
  • Traveling outside of the country

These processes can involve getting a background check and your criminal record will show up on these, no matter how long ago it happened.

Some convictions can stand in the way of your opportunities more than others. For example, getting a visa to visit the United States with a criminal record for drug-related activity is extremely difficult. 

A potential employer may be willing to overlook a very old conviction but clearing your record means you don’t have to take this chance. You can resume life as normal without worrying that your past will catch up with you.

Different Ways of Clearing Criminal Records in Canada

There are two different ways that you can clear a criminal record in Canada: 

  1. Apply for a record suspension
  2. Apply to expunge your record

A record suspension is the simplest way to clear your record. This essentially seals parts of your record so they do not appear on employer or travel searches.

If you make a successful application, your criminal record will be held by the Minister of Public Safety. They are only allowed to share this information in very specific circumstances or if your suspension has been revoked. 

Expunging your record is more in-depth and essentially involves overturning your conviction. This can happen for several reasons including: 

  • If your conviction can now be viewed as a historic injustice
  • If your actions are no longer deemed to have been criminal
  • If your actions would not be criminal if you committed them today

Changes to the law or social justice movements can all help to support appeals for expungement.

Is Getting a Record Suspension Worth It?

Before you apply for a record suspension, it is important to consider whether or not you need a record suspension. There are certain criteria you must meet in order to be eligible for a record suspension. You must: 

  • Have been convicted under federal law rather than provincial law. For example, offenses under the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act are eligible for suspension. 
  • Have completed each area of your summary offense sentencing for a minimum of five years before applying or
  • Have completed each area of your indictable offense sentencing for a minimum of ten years before applying. 
  • Be able to cover the cost of your record suspension administration (more on this later.) 

In general, you cannot get a record suspension for convictions of sexual offenses against children. Having multiple convictions on your record can also make getting a suspension harder. If you have three serious convictions resulting in two or more years of jail time each, you will not be able to get a suspension.

You do not need to apply for a suspension if: 

  • You have a record for a youth offense
  • You have received a conditional or an absolute discharge

Think getting a record suspension is possible for your previous convictions? Then, let’s take a look at exactly how to get a record suspension in Canada.

Applying for Record Suspensions

There are several steps you need to take when applying for a record suspension. 

First, you need to visit your local police station to complete a Fingerprint Form. This involves getting your fingerprints taken and does come with a fee. When you do this, it is important that your Fingerprint Form notes that you wish to apply for a record suspension. 

Once you have completed this, you can post your Fingerprint Form to the Civil Fingerprint Screening Service in Ontario. You also need to enclose the fee of $25. You can provide this as a money order, as a bank draft, or as a cheque. 

Then you need to get your hands on a Record Suspension Guide from the Parole Board of Canada. This includes all the application forms that you need. You can: 

  • Download this from the Record Suspensions website
  • Request a copy via email (
  • Request a copy by calling 1-800-874-2652 (toll-free) 

Once you have your guide, follow the step-by-step instructions. You will need to provide a lot of detailed information so pay attention to detail while you do this.

Waiting for a Decision 

Once you have submitted your application, you have to wait for a decision from the Parole Board. On average, this takes six months for summary convictions or twelve months for indictable convictions.

If you submit an incomplete application for a record suspension, the whole process will take longer.

When this happens, the Canada Parole Board will return your application to you and ask you to provide the missing information. You only have one opportunity to do this, so make sure that you go through everything thoroughly. 

To understand the ins and outs of this process better, let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions about how to clear a criminal record.

How Long Does it Take to Apply for a Record Suspension?

Applying for a record suspension involves a lot of paperwork and this means it usually takes between 12 and 24 months to complete. Applying for an expungement can take even longer. 

However, if you do neither, your criminal record lasts until your 125th birthday. So in the grand scheme of things, applying to clear it is much quicker!

How Much Does Applying for a Record Suspension Cost? 

Before you apply, it is important to be aware of all the costs involved. You will have to cover these yourself. 

The Canada Parole board charges a processing fee of $631 for each application it receives. This may be higher if they have to return your application to you for completion. You also have to cover: 

  • $25 for the Civil Fingerprint Screening Service
  • The cost of obtaining a Fingerprint Form 
  • Postage costs

If you hire a lawyer to help with your application this will obviously make the process more expensive. So making sure that you have enough money in the bank before applying is key.

Can You Apply Posthumously? 

It is possible to clear someone’s criminal record on their behalf after their death. This often happens if someone has been unlawfully convicted of a crime and friends or family want to clear their legacy. 

However, in order to clear a record posthumously, you have to get a record expungement. You cannot get a record suspension for someone who is dead.

This is mainly because a record suspension serves a practical purpose, in helping ex-convicts move on with their lives. A posthumous clearing is more symbolic and therefore requires a full expungement. 

In order to apply for a posthumous expungement, you will need to provide: 

  • Documentation confirming the death of the deceased 
  • Documentation supporting your relationship to them to show that you can apply on their behalf
  • In-depth information about their conviction history

A family member, friend, or legal representative can apply for a posthumous expungement on behalf of the deceased.

Does Anyone Keep a Record of Your Conviction Afterwards? 

If you make a successful application for a record suspension, your record will not immediately be destroyed. Instead, a federal agency will hold it. 

Only the Minister for Public Safety can disclose details of this record in very specific circumstances. For example, if the police arrest and charge you for a similar crime they may be able to access these records. However, this only happens if the Minister for Public Safety deems it relevant and important (which doesn’t happen often.) 

If the Parole Board revokes your suspension for any reason, the federal agency will no longer hold or seal your record.

If you successfully expunge your record then copies of it will be destroyed. No federal agencies will retain a copy of your records. When this happens, you can honestly tell people that you have never received a conviction for the crime in question.

Some provincial police forces or courts may retain a copy of your conviction as part of their own historic records. However, they will receive notification of the expungement. In many cases, they will then destroy their copy of your record although this is not a federal requirement.

What Happens If the Parole Board Denies Your Record Suspension Application?

In some cases, the Parole Board may deny your record suspension application. This is quite a rare occurrence if you have filled in all the information correctly. 

This can happen if you have recently been in trouble with the police, even if you have not received a criminal conviction. 

If the Parole Board denies your application, you can make an appeal for your case. This involves demonstrating to them that you have reformed your behavior. Often it is helpful to get a lawyer’s assistance when making an appeal to the Parole Board.

What Happens If You Cannot Remember the Details of Your Conviction? 

It is extremely important that you provide accurate information on your application. This usually includes providing information about: 

  • The date of your conviction 
  • The arresting police service
  • The court that convicted you
  • The exact details of your conviction and sentence 

Even unintentional errors in these can affect the success of your application. 

If you are struggling to recall these details, you can request a copy of your criminal record. This is should be stored at the National Repository of Criminal Records.

Do You Need to Get Legal Assistance to Clear a Criminal Record?

When applying to clear a criminal record some people do prefer to seek help from a record suspensions attorney, such as Freedom Law

This can be a helpful way of ensuring you fill in your record suspension application properly. An attorney can also help you access your records and file an appeal if you want to. However, it isn’t absolutely necessary to get legal support when applying for a record suspension 

It is a good idea to get help if you decide to apply for an expungement though. This is a more complicated process and requires detailed legal knowledge so it is a good idea to have an expert in your corner. 

Clear Your Record Today! 

As you can see, when it comes to clearing a criminal record in Canada you have a few options.

If you feel that your conviction is no longer in line with Canadian law, you may want to look at expungement. However, applying for a record suspension is a lot easier. This is a fix that ensures your criminal record won’t appear on travel or employment background searches.

For more help organizing all areas of your life, check out the rest of our ‘how to’ guides now. 

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Understand the Importance of Having a Family Attorney



Understand the Importance of Having a Family Attorney

Are you wondering whether it’s time to hire a family attorney? There’s a divorce rate of 2.9 per 1,000 people but even the strongest marriages aren’t forever. 

Even if you aren’t deciding whether to end a marriage, you may need a lawyer’s help for a domestic dispute or child custody issue. Read on to understand the importance of having a family attorney!

Family Law Experience

Family law is a specialized niche that’s unfamiliar to many attorneys and non-attorneys alike. The legal world in the family law realm is a large one. From child custody and guardianship issues to filing for divorce, you need a lawyer with experience. 

Some lawyers practice in many different areas of the law, including family law matters. When you are looking for a lawyer to represent you in a family law dispute, you should turn to the attorney with the bulk of their experience in that niche. 

A Trusted Advocate

The attorney you pick should be a trusted advocate that you feel comfortable speaking with. Family law matters are particularly meaningful to the parties involved. 

During a relationship or marriage, there’s a lot that a couple shares with each other. There are the ups and downs of their jobs, sharing financial struggles, and/or deciding to have children. 

The attorney-client relationship is one built around trust and confidence in one another. If you and your family lawyer can’t have an open and honest conversation with each other, you should look elsewhere for legal services. 

Knowledge About Court Procedure

It’s crucial to hire a family attorney because they will have specialized knowledge in court procedure and that area of the law. Regardless of where you live, the procedures in a family law court are much different from those in a criminal or other civil proceeding. 

If you are involved in a divorce proceeding, the best local lawyer will know the deadlines and other filings that need to be made on your behalf. This will help you keep your case on track and give you peace of mind that your case is in the right hands. 

Thinking Outside the Box

An attorney will help you think outside the box to find creative solutions to unique problems. The combination of a lawyer’s analytical mind and legal training will allow you to maneuver family law courts more easily. 

This will help give you confidence that you are in the best hands as you go through a case that will have a major impact on your life. An attorney’s ability to think outside the box will give you options that you may not realize you have. 

Hire a Family Attorney Today

A great family attorney is an asset to you in a wide range of potential family law issues. By making a list of the traits that matter most to you in a lawyer, you can find the best one for your needs. 

After you’ve met with a few different attorneys, pick the one that makes you feel most comfortable and that fits within your legal budget. Are you interested in learning more about options for you in a criminal law case? Check out our website for more informative law content.

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How to Survive a Divorce and Avoid Separation Stress



How to Survive a Divorce and Avoid Separation Stress

Are you currently going through a divorce? 

In the US, around 40 to 50 percent of couples get divorced. The divorce rate for second and third marriages is even higher. A divorce can be financially and emotionally draining. It’s a highly stressful, life-changing event. 

Luckily, there are some tips you can employ to ease the stress of getting divorced. Read on below to learn how to survive a divorce. 

1. Hire the Right Lawyer 

Hiring the right lawyer can make all of the difference when going through a divorce. A divorce lawyer, also known as a family lawyer, has the necessary legal expertise to help you with splitting assets, dealing with custody issues, and figuring out child support. 

Getting a divorce can cause an enormous amount of stress and with the right attorney, you can focus on rebuilding your personal life as they build your case. Filing a divorce also comes with a massive amount of paperwork, even when the divorce is amicable. 

Trying to sift through all of this paperwork on your own can be a nightmare. A divorce attorney can help you file your paperwork and avoid any costly mistakes. 

A divorce can also be a highly-emotional process. A family lawyer can serve as your voice of reason and help you make decisions that are sound and practical. 

2. Focus On the Positive 

While it may not seem like it right now, there are likely some positive aspects of your divorce. You should take time to think about what you learned from your relationship. Consider who you were before your marriage and who you are now. 

How have you changed in ways that make you proud? What positive aspects can you take away from the experience that may be useful in the future? What will you have time to do that you didn’t before?

Instead of seeing your past relationship as a failure, you can view it as a learning experience and take what you learned into future relationships. 

3. Focus On Your Other Relationships 

Just because you’re getting a divorce, doesn’t mean you’re alone in life. While you may get the cold shoulder from some people who were also friends with your ex, your true friends will stick by you during this time. 

You can also lean on your family members for support. If you feel like there’s no one who understands what you’re going through, seek to make new friendships with other divorcees. As we stated earlier, there are many divorced couples in the US, so it shouldn’t take long to find a friend who understands your struggles. 

If you feel like support from friends and family members just isn’t enough, you can also seek out professional counseling

How to Survive a Divorce: Time to Move Forward 

Now that you know how to survive a divorce, it’s time to put these tips to use. Getting a divorce is never going to be a stress-free process, but with the above information, you should find it easier to move forward. 

To learn more about rebuilding your life after a divorce, browse our blog.

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Best Car Accident Lawyers for You



Best Car Accident Lawyers for You

Every year, more than 3 million people get injured in car accidents in the United States alone. If you’re one of them, you know that getting a fair settlement from an insurance company isn’t always easy.

Sometimes, the only way to get the money you deserve is to go to court. And that means you’ll need to find an experienced attorney to represent your case.

So, how can you make sure you find the best car accident lawyers to represent you when there are so many to choose from? Follow these tips and you’ll be able to find a legal professional in no time.

Ask the People You Know for Recommendations

The best place to start looking for car accident lawyers is to speak with the people you know and trust. Ask your friends, family, and co-workers for recommendations.

The chances are good that someone in your personal network or theirs will know of at least one attorney that can help you with your case.

If they don’t have any recommendations, you can search online for experienced auto accident lawyers in your area. Just make sure to choose an attorney that’s based in your town. This way, you won’t have to worry about their experience with local laws or have to drive for hours just to meet with them.

Focus on Their Experience

Once you have a few names in mind, look at the types of law they focus on. Believe it or not, some accident injury lawyers won’t focus on car accidents. Instead, they concentrate on other types of personal injury cases.

Look for attorneys that specialize in helping with car accident cases. Then, look at the amount of experience they have working on those cases.

Pay attention to the years of experience they have, not just the age of the law firm. Remember, a new firm may have attorneys with decades of experience on staff.

Schedule Consultations With Several Accident Lawyers

Before you choose an attorney, you’ll want to schedule consultations with several legal experts in your area. Think of these consultations as a chance for the attorney to learn more about your case and a chance for you to learn more about their expertise.

During the consultations, each car accident lawyer should take the time to learn about the details of your case. They should ask questions to make sure they fully understand your situation and your concerns.

If the attorney doesn’t ask questions or you feel that you’re driving the conversation, it’s best to keep looking.

Try to also pay attention to the attorney’s demeanor. Do they put you at ease or do you feel uncomfortable being open with them? If so, keep looking.  

Make Sure You’re Comfortable With Their Fees

Different attorneys bill you for their time in different ways. Some charge by the hour with rates that can be as high as several hundred dollars. The best car accident attorneys charge on a contingency basis.

This means they only get paid if they win your case. Instead of charging an hourly rate, they’ll receive a percentage of your settlement if they win in court. This means you won’t have to worry about coming up with the cash up front and can instead focus on covering the cost of your recovery.

Keep in mind that it’s still important to shop around and find out how much different attorneys will charge. Choose the attorney that you can most realistically afford.

Know Who Will Represent Your Case

Just because you meet with a specific attorney to discuss your case doesn’t mean you’ll work with them. Some attorneys allocate personal injury and car accident cases to newer lawyers at the firm.

Before you agree to work with an attorney, make sure you know who will be working on your case. If they plan on assigning your case to someone else, see if you can meet your actual legal team. This will help you make a better and more informed decision.

Keep in mind that the best attorneys won’t assign your case to someone else. They’ll handle it themselves. This allows you to leverage their experience and increases the likelihood of getting the best settlement possible.

Discuss Their Success Rate

Believe it or not, you’re allowed to ask each attorney about their success rate. Use this to your advantage and find out how many cases like yours they’ve represented. Then, ask about how many of those cases they’ve won for their clients.

Unfortunately, no attorney will win every case they take on. But the best attorneys should have a proven history of winning cases like yours.

You can and should also ask about the types of settlements their clients received. The numbers they state should be realistic. If an attorney tells you that they’ve won millions of dollars for clients involved in minor accidents, it’s probably too good to be true.

Research Their Reputation in Detail

Once you have an attorney in mind, research their reputations thoroughly. Ask them for references and follow up with those references before you let them represent you.

The best attorneys should have an extensive list of previous clients that are willing to discuss their experience with you.

You should also research their reputations online. Read up on any reviews you find and see what most people have to say. If most of the reviews sing the attorney’s praises, you’ll likely have a great experience.

Choose a Car Accident Attorney You Can Trust

There are hundreds of experienced accident lawyers that can represent your case. But that doesn’t mean choosing the right attorney for your needs will be easy.

Follow these key tips and you’ll be able to find an attorney you can trust in no time. Just make sure you’re comfortable with their experience, their personality, and their fees before you sign on the dotted line.

Looking for more tips to help you better navigate the legal system and give you a better understanding of your accident case? Check out our latest posts.

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Physical Therapy After a Car Accident: 5 Things You Need to Know



Physical Therapy After a Car Accident

People involved in car accidents often dismiss the idea of whiplash, without getting themselves checked by a doctor afterward.

But according to statistics, out of the 3 million Americans who sustain these injuries each year, half of this amount goes on to suffer from long-term pain. Leaving it untreated can even lead to disability.

So why is seeking physical therapy after a car accident important?

1. Recover Effectively

There’s enough to worry about following a car accident – such as deciphering who is at fault. So the best thing to do, if you feel pain, is to see a physical therapist. This will be one less problem to deal with down the line.

It will ensure you recover effectively. And often it will unearth an injury that you might not have noticed yet.

Whiplash tends to be caused after a rear collision, leading to stiffness, lack of mobility, headaches, and soreness.

Immediate physical therapy will treat the issue from the off, preventing it from getting worse and helping you to feel better sooner. It is more effective than merely taking a week off work and staying in bed.

2. Stop Long-term Damage

Physical therapy is also a way to stave off long-term damage. It can be a pre-emptive move, even if you don’t feel unwell or in pain.

Chronic pain and migraines are common side effects from whiplash and these can crop up down the line, in a delayed response. Whiplash can lead to conditions such as degenerative disc disease as well.

Injuries such as these are more likely diagnosed in patients who suffered an accident and didn’t seek treatment straight away afterward.

3. Help Pain Management

No one enjoys being in discomfort and pain. And aside from greater ailments or injuries, treating whiplash with physical therapy will make you more comfortable, sooner.

Seeking this treatment encourages recovery, while bed rest stunts it.

The moves performed during physical therapy help pimp oxygenated blood and other nutrients to your injured area, nurturing faster repair.

4. Avoid Surgery

Physical therapy can even prevent you from needing surgery down the line.

If your car accident was not, on the surface, a serious collision, it’s likely you won’t need surgery right away. Perhaps you won’t ever need it. But if you suffered a minor degree of whiplash, the need for serious medical attention can crop up later.

This is another reason to bite the bullet early with physical therapy. It will cause you less time, stress, and money than surgery and recovery time will.

5. Help Lingering Untreated Injuries

Another benefit of physical therapy after a car accident is treating dormant or lingering injuries that you already had.

Whiplash can cause these to rear their heads once again, and getting therapy will not only help with new injuries but help heal old ones too.

These could be from past car accidents or simply from other ailments you have experienced over time, and never got checked or treated.

It’s always a good idea to keep abreast of accident news, to know your rights.

Physical Therapy After a Car Accident

We hope this information encourages you to seek physical therapy after a car accident.

For more news and tips about health – as well as money, technology, and leisure – check out our dedicated blog pages.

If you have any suggestions or questions about our content, get in touch via the information provided by clicking on the contact us link.

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How to Apply for a Green Card: The Steps Explained



How to Apply for a Green Card

Have you recently moved to the United States? If so, let us be the first to say welcome!

After all, America is a country of immigrants and has something to offer everyone. It’s a great place to raise a family, start a career, and become part of a community. The key to starting your life as a citizen of the U.S. is to apply for a Green Card so that you can legally live and work here.

Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place for help. This article takes at how to apply for a Green Card, along with all the steps you’ll need to follow. Keep reading to get the inside scoop.

You Must Be Eligible 

First of all, let’s talk about what you have to do to become eligible to receive a Green Card in the United States.

The immigration laws offer several ways to apply, therefore the eligibility requirements vary according to the application method you choose. Because of this, it’s incredibly important to make sure you pick the right application and follow the application steps very closely.

Get Sponsored

Next, an immigrant must complete at least two forms, include an immigrant petition and a Green Card application, and be sponsored by a current United States citizen. 

Your sponsor must file the citizenship application for you, although in some cases you can file on your own behalf. Again, it’s crucial that you fill out and submit the proper forms. It’s also a good idea to hire an experienced immigration attorney.

File a Green Card Application

Go ahead and file the initial petition. Again, this process will be completed either by your sponsor on by you and your own behalf. Then once the application has been submitted, the typical wait period is at least several months. 

Keep in mind that the wait time will fluctuate depending on how far the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services happens to be backed up.

Here’s a look at the N400 timeline.

Complete the Biometrics Process

You will also need to complete a series of biometrics. This includes getting fingerprinted, having your photo taken, and providing your signature.

Complete the Green Card Interview

Next is the interview process. Many people fear having to be interviewed for their Green Card, and yet this is a standard interview where the applicant will be asked a series of questions about their background, their reason for wanting to move to the United States, where they will be living, their employment situation, and their marital status.

Track the Results

Once you’ve successfully completed the entire application process, you’ll simply need to wait for the results to be processed. Fortunately, you can sign up to receive automatic case updates by creating a Case Status Online account.

An Immigrant’s Guide to How to Apply for a Green Card In the United States

Immigrating to the United States is an exciting event. Fortunately, these tips on how to apply for a Green Card will help make the process as easy as possible.

Keep scrolling to discover more great lifestyle advice on our blog.

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