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Clearing a Criminal Record in Canada: A Complete Guide

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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 (suspensions@pbc-clcc.gc.ca)
  • 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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When You May or May Not Need to Hire a Divorce Lawyer

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If you are getting divorced, then it is important to know when you do and do not need a divorce lawyer.

Typically, if you and your spouse agree on everything that is included in the divorce, then you will not need a lawyer.

If there are no kids involved, no assets to split up, and the case is straightforward, then you can probably go without a lawyer. It is really simple as well as you can conserve cash as well.

However, if there are children involved, property to split up, and the case is not straightforward, then you should definitely choose a lawyer. It would not be wise to go to court without a lawyer because it could get complicated, and there’s a possibility that you may not get what you want. If you do not have a lawyer and your spouse does, then they might make the proceedings difficult for you. So, it’s time to talk to a divorce lawyer to help you along.

Types of divorce

No-fault

No-fault divorces happen when both partners agree to file for divorce. The law in some jurisdictions does not recognize no-fault divorces, but in most places, it is the only type of divorce available. 

Those who choose to get a no-fault divorce can easily work out their own custody arrangements without having to fight for this in court.

Fault

Fault divorces occur when one or both partners engage in marital misconduct against the other partner before or during the marriage. Divorce courts look at many factors while deciding who is at fault in a divorce, including adultery, domestic violence and abuse, mental cruelty, imprisonment and abandonment. 

If you choose to pursue a fault divorce, then it is likely that you will have to appear in court and prove that your spouse is at fault for the end of your marriage. At that time, you can talk to a divorce lawyer for assistance. 

Contested

Contested divorces are when one or both persons do not agree on the regards to their divorce. This can be for many reasons, including property division and custody arrangements; however it often boils down to who gets awarded what they want in regards to an alimony payment as well- which could cause problems if this amount is set too low.


Uncontested

Sometimes, when the two people in a marriage are on good terms and agree about everything regarding their separation it does not end up being an ugly fight. In uncontested cases, you and your spouse can present a settlement agreement to the court instead of going through the lengthy and expensive divorce process.

It is necessary to understand that if you and also your partner settle on all of the terms, after that employing a separation legal representative may not be essential. However, if you and your spouse cannot agree on all of the terms, then you should definitely hire a divorce lawyer because it will help you in negotiating and doing the paperwork.

There are a number of elements to consider prior to getting a family lawyer. If you are not sure whether or not you need a divorce lawyer, then it is always best to talk to a professional and discuss all of the possibilities that may arise.

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How to Choose a Divorce Lawyer in Sydney: 7 Questions You Should Ask For That Perfect Match

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When you are in the process of divorce, there is no denying that it can be a very difficult time. You might be feeling stressed and unsure about what your next steps should be. However, one thing is for sure – hiring the right divorce lawyer will make all the difference. But how do you go about choosing one?

The following article has 7 questions to ask yourself when considering which divorce lawyer in Sydney to hire so that you get the perfect match!

Question #1:  Are they experienced?

While you might think that a new divorce lawyer will be cheaper, the truth is – the experience of an attorney does come at a price. When it comes to legal matters such as this one, experience means everything, and having someone who has seen similar cases before will make all the difference in your case. Avoid hiring inexperienced lawyers or those who do not specialise in divorce at all.

Question #2: Do they offer a free consultation?

When considering divorce lawyers Sydney, you will want to find someone who offers a free first meeting. This is the perfect opportunity for you to ask all your questions and understand more about their background experience as well as how much it would cost you in the end. Remember that this may be one of the most expensive expenses you have to worry about, so it is worth finding someone who will offer a great service at an affordable price.

Question #3: Do they communicate well?

Before hiring any divorce lawyer in Sydney, one of the most important things that needs to be considered is how good their communication skills are. You want someone who can keep you updated throughout the case and answer all your questions.

Question #4: Do you understand their terms?

When going through a divorce, there are many things to take care of such as division of assets or child custody issues. In order for this process to be smooth, everything needs to run smoothly from beginning till the end, which means that it is important that you understand the terms that are mentioned in your contract.

Question #5: Do they have references?

When searching for a divorce lawyer in Sydney, it is important to ask if they have any former clients who can provide their personal opinion on how good of a job he or she did. This will help you get more information about their background and how they operate their practice.

Question #6: How long have they been practicing?

As with any type of lawyer, experience and expertise play a big role when it comes to getting successful results in your divorce case. Just like you would not want an inexperienced person handling such important issues as this one, you also do not want someone who has been practicing for too long, as they might have lost their drive and passion.

Question #7: What is the divorce process like with them?

Anyone who has ever gone through a divorce will agree that it can be one of the most stressful experiences in life. However, when you work with an expert such as a divorce lawyer Sydney, this process can become much easier. You will want to find someone who is empathetic and caring, as this will make the whole thing go by smoother.

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Much Will a Car Accident Lawyer Cost You

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If you have been involved in a car accident and find that the other driver was at fault and the cause of the accident, you will need a car accident lawyer to represent you in making the and following up the claims. They will represent you in filing the personal injury lawsuit in court, but How

Much Will a Car Accident Lawyer Cost You?

Most car accident lawyers charge for their services in unique ways, unlike the hourly fee charged by firms in different cases. However, an ordinary car accident attorney charges contingency fees to take on an injury case; a contingency fee means that the firm will not pay the attorney any money until they recover money from your case. Thus, the lawyer or firm gets a percentage from the insurance settlement. This article will let you know what to expect when hiring a lawyer to handle your case. The following are the essential things you need to answer the question; how much a car accident lawyer will cost you

The contingency percentage

This is the percentage amount the personal Injury lawyer should receive; this percentage normally varies, but it ranges between 20 to 45 percent, and 33 percent are referred to be standard. The contingency fee varies depending on whether the personal injury lawsuit is filed against the other driver. If it gets settled before it goes to court, the victim is likely to receive a lower amount. However, if you consider taking the lawsuit to court and get a proper representation, the lawyer might get up to 40 percent contingency. 

It is advisable to talk to your attorney about the contingency fee to review the contract for legal services. If you have difficulties understanding this, you can ask your lawyer to help you understand the procedure. However, you should remember that the fee is negotiable. If the case is clear and evidence is easily available, you can negotiate with your lawyer to reduce the contingency percentage.

Fees and expenses

About fees and expenses, different circumstances might lead you to incur other expenses or not; this entirely depends on the lawyer and the contract for legal services; the extra fees include the court upfront fees and other litigation expenses like witnesses and reporter fees. Many firms will need a client to pay the fees first before they become due; therefore, where your contract mentions that you are responsible for paying the fees, do not be surprised when the firm calls you to pay for the fees as they become due.

The firms are always very serious about this, and if you fail to pay the fees, your case might not proceed until the payments are made. However, other firms will completely cover your fees and expenses, but the amount will be deducted from the settlement amount made by final judgment. This means from the final settlement; the firm will deduct the attorney’s legal services amount and the fees or expenses then you will receive the remaining amount.

Ensure that your lawyer gets their payments or money from the net settlement, which is the amount left after the fees and expenses are deducted. You need to be careful and avoid the firms that will try to get back their money first before deducting fees and expenses. Show them that it is unacceptable, and if they go forward and do it anyway, you should consider finding another lawyer for that.

Other fee arrangements

Keep in mind that not all cases require pure contingency fee arrangement because lawyers can collect an initial retainer to begin the case, and then later, when the case ends, they will still come for contingency fees. However, once you recover the money, the amount you had already paid your lawyer should be subtracted from the percentage due to the lawyer when the case ends.

Most car accidents do not involve flat fee payment for legal services because flat fees are always reserved for simple cases. A law firm can only charge a flat fee when the legal representation is limited to draft and respond to the demand letter where the fee can range from $300 to $1000.

Is the car accident lawyer worth the cost?

Finally, you want to know whether the lawyer you are paying is worth what you will spend on them. However, you should know that you will spend more hiring a lawyer when you have serious injuries and damages. Still, if you were involved in a minor accident, you can even negotiate everything without a lawyer. Where you are injured and need serious medical attention, the value of your settlement rises quickly, and the insurance company fights against compensating you a lot of money. Therefore, the more work your attorney does, the more you will be required to pay them.

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Mississippi estate planning: Check the important documents

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It is a common myth that estate planning is for the rich. If you are an adult with assets, no matter the value, you should consider having an estate plan, which should be in sync with the state laws of Mississippi. In your best interest, you may want to talk to a skilled & experienced Ridgeland estate lawyer to understand the consequences, pros, and cons of your decisions. 

Advance Health Care Directive

An unfortunate medical crisis can happen to anyone. If you are incapable of making healthcare decisions on your own, your family may have to run to court to take charge. With an Advance Health Care Directive, you can avoid all that. This form allows you to choose someone who can make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated because of an illness or medical crisis. 

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney allows a person of your choice to take care of your financial affairs if you are incapacitated because of an illness or unfortunate event. The representative will be called the attorney-in-fact, and the person can handle your finances, including management of investments, payment of dues and bills, and asset management. If you don’t have a durable power of attorney, your family will have to approach the court to appoint a conservator, which can be time-consuming, to say the least. 

Wills and trusts

When planning your estate, you have two options – creating a will or creating a trust. A will is a legal document – the prime document of your estate plan – that determines what happens to your assets when you are gone. The “Will” be admitted to probate, where the court will check the will’s validity and oversee the distribution of assets. If you are over 18 years, you can have a will in Mississippi. If you don’t have a will, the chancery court will rely on the state’s intestacy laws to divide your estate. You can also consider a trust-based estate plan, which allows your loved ones to avoid the probate process. 

Consider talking to an estate planning lawyer to know what you should do with your assets. They will review your wishes and guide you on the process to avoid common mistakes. Don’t delay planning your estate – It is never too early to plan for the future, and a lawyer can simplify things for you. Call an attorney and insist on a personal meeting today. 

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5 Qualities To Look In A Personal Injury Law Firm

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5 Qualities To Look In A Personal Injury Law Firm

Facing an accident at the workplace or in public is completely unexpected. You would never know in advance that you might be facing a personal injury today. And the fact that these injuries would happen due to someone else’s carelessness is even more heartbreaking. 

In such a case of personal injury, one thing that matters is adequate compensation for the injury caused. If you are injured due to someone else, you are liable for the compensation. Hence, hiring a personal injury lawyer gives you a guarantee that no matter what you will get fully compensated for the injuries sustained. But what matters is the choice of lawyer. Hiring an experienced lawyer guarantees better hope and compensation. Hence here are a few qualities that you should consider before hiring a lawyer from a personal injury law firm.

Availability 

The very first quality to look in the lawyers of a personal injury law firm is availability. The lawyer you choose should be readily available whenever you require his services. This is why it is always suggested to find a lawyer that lives in the same city. This way you have his access whenever you need. Even if the lawyer you hired is out of town, the firm should have a team of strong and experienced support staff who can help you out during need. Availability also helps in getting regular updates for the progress of your case.

Professionalism

The second important quality which your hired lawyer should possess is professionalism. This is also dependent on the personal injury law firm you choose. If the firm is known for best practices in the town, they definitely have professional lawyers.

Professionalism is defined as the quality of carrying out duties with utmost sincerity. The lawyers that you hire for your case should always be available to answer your questions. All the duties that the lawyer is liable to, should be carried out with complete care and affection. He or she should be passionate about seeking the best outcome for the client in court proceedings.

Approachability 

Another quality that every law firm for personal injury must have is approachability. Clients should be able to connect and approach the lawyers easily. Whichever law firm you end up choosing, it should have lawyers that offer reliable and convenient means of communication for all the clients. This generally is missed out when the lawyer has so many clients. So go for someone who does the job really well but is bothering any of the clients.

Sincerity

Though the level of sincerity can be easily understood by checking the professionalism of the lawyer. But again, a lawyer should be frank with his clients. He should be willing to inform and update you about the prospects of the case, no matter good or bad. This would help you in taking necessary actions on time. The best personal injury law firm should always advise you with a profitable course of action.

Success Rate

Lastly, one thing that matters is the record of success. When choosing a personal injury lawyer, reputation plays a vital role. It is as important as the insurance company in the whole case of negotiations. As you look for different personal injury law firms, you should check out the track record of success to obtain stronger settlements. The past success rate can readily define how good a law firm is. Hence pay attention to it before choosing a lawyer.

Find the best lawyer for yourself and get everything compensated including medical bills, pain, suffering, loss of wages and more.

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