Wiping records clean

She sees about 40 clients a month, mostly men, with the average age of 50.

They come from all of walks of life: established, successful, wealthy, done very well, or maybe down on their luck.

And all of her clients have one thing in common when they come to visit Karen Rogers: they all want to undo one error in judgment that led to them having a criminal record.

Rogers operates her own criminal record pardon application service, Pardon Now Enterprises, out of a Vernon office.

“A pardon seals the criminal record of a person convicted of a criminal offence, and that person has completed their sentence,” said Rogers, a former RCMP employee.

“There are regulations and requirements to meet prior to applying for a pardon.

“The people I deal with are generally male who have had one conviction, happened 15-to-30 years ago, and that has held them back throughout their life.”

Which is where Rogers’ service comes in to play.

A person with a criminal record can apply for a pardon three years after a summary conviction.

A summary conviction encompasses things like driving under the influence, drug possession, theft and fraud under $5,000, mischief, assault or probation breaches); five years for an indictable offence (robbery, possession for the purpose of trafficking, theft and fraud over $5,000, break-and-enter, drug trafficking, conspiracy and aggravated assault and assault causing bodily harm.

A person convicted for a personal injury offence for which a prison sentence of two years or more was imposed, or an indictable sexual offence, must wait 10 years to apply for a pardon.

Rogers will help a client through the initial steps of the pardon application, and that includes getting a set of fingerprints done. Then the rest is up to her.

“I complete all of the documentation,” she said.

“I’m the liaison between government agencies required to complete certain parts of the application and any other documentation Ottawa or anyone else requires.”

The application ultimately goes to Ottawa where a final decision is made on whether a pardon will be granted.

She started her business, Rogers said, because “there was a lot of misinformation out there (about pardon applications).”

“It is a long process and when the application is done wrong, Ottawa will automatically send it back – and that’s after having it for six months – stating there are problems with the application,” said Rogers.

“It is important the application is done correctly in the first instance to avoid any lengthy delays.”

Rogers said the pardon application process using her company takes about eight-to-10 months from the time they visit her to the time the pardon is granted.

A pardon can be revoked if the person is convicted of a summary offence, the Parole Board of Canada finds the person is no long of good conduct or the board learns a false or deceptive statement was made, or relevant information was concealed at the time of the application.

Since 1970, Rogers points out, more than 400,000 Canadians have received pardons, and 96 per cent of those are still in force.

“That indicates that the vast majority of pardon recipients remain crime-free in the community,” said Rogers.

And if you don’t think a criminal record will affect somebody, Rogers, who also processes U.S. travel waivers, said think again.

“Forget about getting that new job, volunteering at your child’s school or coaching a sports team,” she said.

“You’ll have to abandon plans to adopt a child, operate a day care or maintain custody of your child during separation. And don’t try to enter the U.S. with a criminal record.”