Other than the waiting times assigned to the type of offense committed, not much else set the summary offender and indictable offender apart, in terms of administrative proceedings. However, recently, speculations are being made into creating a difference in the record suspension price between the summary offenders and indictable offenders.
In a nutshell, summary offences are less severe crimes like possession of less than 30 grams marijuana, soliciting prostitution, driving under influence, and criminal harassment. Indictable crimes are a lot more serious. They include offences such as theft over $5000, fraud over $5000, weapon’s assault, and manslaughter.
The Federal Parole Board of Canada has conducted an online consultation to get people’s feedback on the narrative of minor offences having to pay less for a record suspension compared to those convicted of more serious, indictable crimes. This online consultation reviewed the changes of 2012 made under the Harper government that altered the waiting period of those expecting pardons. These changes have increased the waiting period for summary offenders from 3 to 5 before they can apply for record suspensions, and similarly increased that for indictable offenders from 5 to 10 years. Additionally, the cost for application has increased from $150 to $631 since the conservatives believe tax payers shouldn’t bear the burden of pardons.
Over 3000,000 Canadians have some sort of a criminal record. People often confuse the record suspension with the record being erased. That is not the case. A record suspension simply makes it easier for the person to get a job, travel, and blend in with society once again.
It is clear these changes hinder those willing to turn their lives around with new employments. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the government will examine waiting periods and fee thoroughly to make a just decision. Currently,summary offences and Indictable offenses cost the same($631). This cost includes application screening for eligibility and processing the eligible applications. In case the screening process finds the application incomplete or ineligible, then the full $631 are returned to the applicant.
The survey conducted said that the parole board is considering different costing options and asked people if they think the $631 fee for the record suspension process is a significant barrier, a modest barrier, or not a barrier at all. The costing options being explored by the parole board are the following:
- Since the processing of Summary offences are comparatively less exhaustive and time consuming, their cost should be lesser than Indictable offense record suspensions as well.
- Dividing the fee for the record suspension into two parts. The part of the fee utilised in the screening process should be non refundable, since all applications are screened and only those deemed eligible are processed further. The part of the fee reserved for processing the application is refundable in case the application is rendered ineligible or incomplete.
- The fees for record suspension should remain the same for both kinds of offences – Summary as well as Indictable offenses – and, in case the application is ineligible, the fee is to be refunded.
This general survey will give the parole board a bigger picture by providing them with feedback from the Canadian people that is necessary to make a well thought-out decision.