A discharge is not a criminal conviction in Canada. Rather, it is a sentencing measure that will allow an offender to avoid a criminal record after you have been found guilty of a criminal offence. However, it does not mean that it will not show up on your record at all. After being granted a conditional discharge, it will show up on criminal record checks for a period of three years. If you have been granted an absolute discharge it can show up on your record for a period of one year. However, note that after the three years or the one year has elapsed (depending on the discharge that you received), the fact that you were charged and discharged from an offence can still appear on some enhanced record checks. In order to eliminate all record of your charges and discharges, you will have to obtain a criminal pardon.
The Effect Of A Discharge On Your Ability To Travel To The United States
While a discharge is not a criminal conviction, it is still a finding of guilt that may impact your ability to travel depending on the nature of the offence that you commit and the type of discharge that you received. Specifically, you may not have trouble traveling to the United States if you have received a conditional discharge of a fairly minor offence like mischief, simple assault, or impaired driving. However, if you have received a conditional discharge for excludable offences like crimes of moral turpitude or drug offences, you may not be able to enter the United States without a Waiver of Inadmissibility. Crimes of moral turpitude that will render you inadmissible include offences like assault with a weapon, theft, fraud, burglary and prostitution.
A Waiver of Inadmissibility is an application that can be made before travelling to the United States if you have been convicted of or discharged from an excludable offence. If your application is successful, you will be granted temporary admission to the United States notwithstanding your criminal record or record of a discharge. However, note that there is a fee associated with this application, and the time to make and process the application can be quite lengthy. If you need to travel to the United States and have a conditional discharge, contact our office and we can help you determine whether you will need a Waiver of Inadmissibility and help you apply for the waiver if needed.
However, unlike a conditional discharge an absolute discharge is not viewed as a conviction in the United States. As such, if you have been absolutely discharged from your offences, your ability to travel to the United States may not be impeded.