Criminal charges are usually the beginning of one of the most challenging experiences in one’s lifetime. When facing allegations, you should consider how the criminal record will affect your life and how to minimize the impact.

When you’re arrested or accused of a crime, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) start keeping a record of your charges. Regardless of your case’s outcome, this record will be available to all the authorized agencies through the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). It will also be available to anyone else who files a request to check whether you have a criminal record.

Criminal charges will still appear on your record whether the case against you is dismissed or you’re convicted. However, a conviction has far-reaching consequences compared to a dismissal or discharge. This is why working with an experienced criminal defence lawyer in Ontario is important, as they can help minimize the effects of a criminal record on your life.

Note that you can get your “Non-conviction” information cleared if your case is dismissed. This involves the destruction of all the police and court records. If convicted, you can apply for a record suspension when eligible. Contact Jeffrey Reisman to learn more about criminal record suspension.

Let’s explore the various ways a criminal record can impact your life.

1. Impact On Employment

One of the most significant impacts of a criminal record is on your current and future employment. Whether you were convicted or found innocent, any charges on your record can make it difficult to find or keep a job.

Certain jobs may be out of reach if you have a criminal record, including government jobs, finance and those involving vulnerable persons such as children, youths and the elderly. This is particularly so if you were convicted of a crime.

In the private sector, employers tend to ask applicants to consent to a background check. Most employers will reject your application if the background check reveals that you have a criminal record. If an employer asks you directly if you’ve ever been charged with a crime or convicted, you should answer honestly. If you have a youth record, you’re allowed not to disclose it after it’s closed.

2. Housing

Having a criminal record makes it difficult to rent a house. Landlords tend to refuse to rent apartments to persons with criminal charges, particularly if they were convicted. There’s no law stopping landlords from discriminating against persons charged with criminal offences.

If you were convicted of a sexual offence, it gets tough to get an apartment as there are places you can’t live, including near schools and daycare centres.

If you have a home, insurance companies can refuse to insure it, demand a higher price or offer reduced coverage for your property because of a criminal record. However, for this to happen, the insurer must prove that your criminal record is an important factor in your property insurance coverage.

3. Education

A criminal record can interfere with your education prospects. Some colleges conduct background checks on applicants, disqualifying anyone with a criminal history. This usually depends on individual college policies on matters of criminal records, including youth records for new college applicants.

If you have a criminal record, you may be disqualified from attending or graduating in certain programs, including medicine, security services, law, childcare-related courses and finance. Your education scholarships will also be affected.

Although some universities and programs reject applications from persons with criminal records, others do not. If you have a criminal record, there are still courses you can apply for and get accepted.

4. Professional licensing

To practice as a professional in some fields, including medical, financial, legal and real estate, you need to acquire an official license. The licensing boards check applicants’ backgrounds and ask them to disclose if they’ve any criminal charges. If you have a criminal record, your license application may be denied; if you have a license, it may be revoked. A criminal record raises questions about your ability to uphold professional codes in certain fields.

5. Loss of Rights

A criminal record can lead to the restriction of some of your rights. If you are convicted of a crime and sentenced to time in prison, your rights and freedoms are curtailed, including your rights to free movement and privacy. Even after completing your sentence, some of your rights might still be restricted.

After a conviction, you may be put on probation for a while. Certain rights and freedoms are usually restricted during your probation period.

6. Travel Restrictions

A criminal record has far-reaching effects on your life, even outside Canada. If you have a criminal record, you may be denied entry into certain countries.

Travel restrictions usually vary per country. For example, the USA has very strict travel policies, and you may be denied entry even for minor offences. Remember that Canada and the US share criminal record data. Therefore, you shouldn’t lie about your criminal history to the border agents. If you have a criminal record and want to travel to the US, check if your crime falls within the moral turpitude offences. If it does, you’ll likely be refused entry to the US. If you’re denied entry, you can apply for a US travel waiver.

Most countries restrict travel based on criminal convictions, types of criminal offences and severity of your crimes. Check the restrictions put in place by specific countries before travelling.

7. Stigma and Discrimination

Discrimination against individuals with criminal records is quite prevalent. Even when you’re falsely accused of a crime, such as false rape accusations, your reputation will be ruined, and you may face social stigma and discrimination for a lifetime.

8. Re-entry and rehabilitation

If you’re sentenced to time in prison, re-entry into society after serving your sentence can be difficult. There’s a lot of stigma around persons with criminal records, particularly convicted persons. This includes discrimination from housing and employment opportunities in your community. With such difficulties, it becomes hard for persons with criminal records to rehabilitate themselves and leave their criminal past.

How Do You Mitigate the Impact of a Criminal Record?

Mitigating the impact of a criminal record depends on where you currently stand. Were you convicted of a crime? Was your criminal case dismissed? Did you receive a conditional discharge? Are you currently facing criminal charges?

Mitigating the impact of a criminal record if you were convicted

If you were convicted of a crime, your criminal record stays with you for the rest of your life. It cannot be destroyed. However, you may be eligible for a record suspension after five years (summary offence) or ten years (indictable offence), except for a few criminal offences, such as child sex crimes.

If granted a record suspension, your criminal record will be separated and made only accessible to government agencies and law enforcement. If you re-offend, your criminal record may be reactivated.

A record suspension opens doors to more employment opportunities.

People with youth records don’t need to apply for a record suspension. Except for certain crimes, youth records are automatically sealed when the access period expires.

Don’t let a criminal record haunt you for the rest of your life. Contact an experienced criminal lawyer today for help with record suspension.

Mitigating the impact of a criminal record if you were not convicted

If your charges were dropped or dismissed, then you were not convicted. In such cases, you don’t need to apply for a record suspension or wait for years. You can request the RCMP centre that charged you to destroy your non-conviction information. If your request is granted, all the information in your criminal record will be destroyed, including police and court records.

Mitigating the impact of a criminal record when facing criminal charges

If you are facing criminal charges, you should focus on preventing a conviction or minimizing possible punishment.

To minimize the impact of criminal charges on your life, you should retain an experienced criminal lawyer, such as Jeffrey Reisman, to represent you and fight the charges against you. He has extensive experience and knowledge in criminal law and can help you build a strong defence that will ensure the best outcome possible.

If you are facing criminal charges, get in touch with Jeffrey Reisman to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.