Limiting Pardons for Serious Crimes
On June 17, 2010, the House of Commons passed Bill C-23A, Limiting Pardons for Serious Crimes Act. It will, among other changes, ensure that the waiting period to apply for a pardon better reflects the severity of the crimes committed.
Under Bill C-23A, people convicted of serious crimes will have to wait longer to apply for a pardon:
- People convicted of a serious personal injury offence, including manslaughter, who received a prison term of two years or more, as well as those convicted of a sexual offence related to a child, prosecuted by indictment, will not be able to apply for a pardon until 10 years after the end of their sentence. Under the previous legislation, they were able to apply after five years.
- People convicted of other indictable offences or summary offences for sexual crimes against children will have to wait five years instead of three.
- Those convicted of other summary offences will be able to apply after three years.
The amendments also ensure the National Parole Board (NPB) has the discretion it needs to consider pardon applications. For example, the NPB will be able to consider whether granting a pardon will “bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”
These measures were given Royal Assent on June 29, 2010, and take effect immediately as follows:
- applications received on or after June 29, 2010, will be disposed of under the new measures; and
- applications received prior to June 29, 2010, and not disposed of, will be governed by the previous rules.
For more information about Bill C-23A, please see the Parliament of Canada website at www.parl.gc.ca
Bill C-23B, which would further amend the Criminal Records Act
and other Acts, remains before Parliament at Committee stage in the House of Commons.