Facing criminal charges in Toronto gives cause for immediate concerns. A conviction can mean fines, limitations on rights, or even jail time. But once the penalty has been served you can move forward and resume your life as normal, right?
Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. As Toronto criminal lawyers we are all too aware of the lasting effects of a criminal record.
As a criminal lawyer, I’m always answering questions about criminal records. What they are, how they affect your future, and how to fight/mitigate the effects before/after conviction.
What is a Criminal Record in Toronto?
A criminal record is received once you have been found guilty and are convicted of an offence. Even for a minor offence, a criminal record does not go away on its own.
Although a criminal record requires a conviction, police keep a record of all offences you are charged with – regardless if you’ve been convicted or not. Police keep a record of your charges and various contacts with police and can disclose this on certain criminal record and background checks. Even if you receive a pardon, now known as record suspension, the police and various governmental agencies will always have access to your police records.
Criminal charges in Toronto that can result in a criminal record include:
- Common Assault
- Domestic Assault
- Driving Under the Influence
- Drug Offences
- Fraud Related Offences
- Property Related Offences
- Regulatory Offences
- Robbery & Armed Robbery
- Sexual Offences
Can I Get A Job With A Criminal Record?
Today, more than ever, you history shadows you everywhere you go. Once it was only law enforcement and government jobs that would do criminal background checks before employment. Now, however, just about everyone seems to be performing them. This is especially true for positions that work vulnerable persons such as elderly, youth, or disabled people.
For most private companies a standard background check will only reveal a conviction for which you have not received a pardon. However, more detailed information is easy to obtain. Private investigators (and good lawyers) often search and access public court records to discover charges and allegations people face. They will uncover any existing information on your criminal record, even if you were found not guilty.
The stigma that comes with a criminal record can make finding employment a challenge. Even if you get to the interview stage and you meet employers who are okay with your record there are no guarantees. It only takes one person in the hiring process to say no because of a criminal record to lose out on a job.
Can I Be Fired For Criminal Charges?
In some cases, an employer can legally terminate your position if you are charged with a crime. Generally, there is concern for crimes involving ‘dishonesty’ which prevent people from being insured or bonded. They cannot hold positions that involve handling money and valuables.
Even for severe criminal charges, certain conditions need to be met. For example, the likelihood of being found guilty and the likelihood of the verdict affecting the employer’s’ reputation factor in heavily.
A public example of this in Canada is CBC’s firing of Jian Ghomeshi. After seeing evidence of Ghomeshi’s transgressions CBC was able to fire him, despite his claims of certainty that he would be found innocent. The severity of the alleged crimes, apparent likelihood of convictions, and potential for damaging CBC’s reputation made termination a legal option.
Another way a criminal record can result in firing is if it leaves you unable to perform your job. A DUI, for example, will result in a suspension of your license. If your job requires driving, you are unable to perform that job until the suspension is lifted. Jobs that require international travel may also be at risk. A criminal record can limit your ability to travel.
Can I Travel With A Criminal Record?
International travel offers no guarantees for those with a criminal record. The rules and restrictions vary for individual countries. They may ban travel for specific types of offences, for convictions, severity of the crime, or a variety of other reasons. You will need to inspect the individual restrictions for traveling to any specific country.
Even traveling to the USA may be off the table with a criminal record. A few short years ago, Canadians could travel to America without a passport. Today even a minor offence can prevent travel. Before traveling to the US check your moral turpitude to see if you will be admitted. The USA is especially severe on travel restrictions.
Sexual assault, criminal harassment, drug offences, and robbery charges carry a higher likelihood of prohibiting travel to the USA. If access is prohibited you can apply for a U.S. travel waiver.
Harsher Future Sentences
Having an existing criminal record can affect any future charges you receive. The Crown can use an existing record to justify a demand for harsher sentencing. Even without a conviction, they can attempt to use a record to establish a pattern of criminal behaviour.
When hiring criminal law firms in Toronto, it is important to inform them of an existing criminal record. This will allow them to prepare for this situation.
Loss of Rights
Having a criminal record, especially if you are convicted, can result in a loss of your personal rights and freedoms. The largest loss of these freedoms, of course, is jail time. But there are losses that can follow you for the rest of your life.
DUI charges, for example, can mean losing the ability to drive entirely or requiring an ignition interlock in order to drive.
Being on probation limits many personal freedoms as well. Probation Orders and conditions are adjusted for each individual. The conditions always applied are:
- Appearing in court when ordered
- Informing about changes of address, name, or employment
- Keep the peace and be on good behaviour
There are a number of other conditions a court can include, many of which are more limiting. You can lose the right buy or drink alcohol, own or carry weapons. You may need to report to a probation officer, attend rehabilitation, or perform community service.
How Do You Fight or Mitigate The Damages of A Criminal Record
How to fight or mitigate the effects of criminal records depends on your current position. If you are currently facing charges your approach is different than if you have been charged in the past. As well, whether or not you were convicted changes the correct approach.
Can My Criminal Record Be Removed If I Was Convicted of A Crime?
If you have been convicted of a crime you are not eligible to have your criminal record destroyed. You may, however, be eligible for record suspension – commonly known as a pardon. A pardon seals your record to all except law enforcement and government.
Receiving a pardon also makes you eligible to more employers and to apply for citizenship. It allows for better reintegration into society.
A pardon does not remove your file. The Canadian Police Information Centre retains the file, and may reactivate it in the event you are convicted of another offence in the future.
Can My Criminal Record Be Removed If I Was Not Convicted?
If you are charged with a crime but are not convicted, you do not need a pardon. Instead, you can apply for a file destruction.
A file destruction completely removes your criminal record. It ensures the permanent destruction of your:
- Police records
- Court Records
- Fingerprint number
- File information
I Am Facing Criminal Charges, How Do I Prevent A Criminal Record?
When you are facing criminal charges, your criminal record is not the first priority. The more immediate goal is preventing a conviction or minimizing sentencing, depending on the individual situation.
Your first step when facing criminal charges is to find the best criminal defence lawyer. You need to find someone who is experienced and has an immediate interest in defending your rights and freedoms.
A criminal lawyer will work on securing your release, building a defence, and then litigation & trial. In addition to preventing a conviction, a good criminal defence lawyer can mitigate the restrictions and damages that can result from a criminal record.
Recently, for example, Toronto criminal lawyer, William Jaksa, had a client who was charged with DUI. This client’s loved his job, but it required driving and travel. He feared this charge would end his career. Jaksa was able to reduce the restriction so his client could do the driving and travel his job requires.
If you are facing criminal charges, you need to find the best criminal law firm in Toronto. Contact William Jaksa today for experience with a track record of success.