What is a conditional or absolute discharge?

2. Understand how a discharge can impact your life

A discharge is considered a good way to resolve a criminal . It doesn't result in a permanent criminal record. But there will be a temporary record of your discharge for a specific period of time.

A discharge that is still on file can impact your life in many ways. For example:

  • You may not be able to get jobs working with vulnerable people, such as children or the elderly.
  • You may not be able to get jobs that require security clearance.
  • You may not be able to travel or have problems when you do.
  • The police may treat you differently if they know you have a record of discharge.
  • Some countries may not recognize conditional discharges as non-convictions. You may be treated as though you have a conviction when traveling to these countries.

Impact on travel

Although in Canada a discharge is not considered a criminal conviction, other countries may not recognize the difference between a discharge and a conviction.

For example, travelling to the United States may be a problem for you if you were given a . The United States does not have a type of that is not a criminal conviction. They may treat your conditional discharge the same as a criminal conviction, and not let you cross the border.

Impact on immigration

Discharges do not affect your immigration status. But if your discharge is taken back by the court and replaced with a conviction (see Step 3), it could affect your immigration status.

You can be ordered to leave Canada if you're of certain crimes. This includes a “serious” crime. A crime is serious if:

  • the maximum sentence someone could get is 10 or more years in prison, even if they get a shorter sentence or no time at all in prison, or
  • the sentence that someone does get is more than 6 months in prison or jail.

This is called being “criminally inadmissible”. If it happens to you, you will be given a . You will not be allowed to immigrate to Canada unless you apply for and are granted or a . A record suspension used to be called a .

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