The Pardon Group
Who We Are
Maria Muenz, a former employee of Alberta Justice, established The Pardon Group in 2002. Since then hundreds of Canadians across the country with criminal records have obtained Pardons, Record Suspensions and US Waivers with the help of The Pardon Group. Maria and her team work exclusively with top Criminal lawyers, recognizing that additional expertise is often required to successfully complete the Record Suspension or Waiver application process and to ensure the best outcome.
Throughout the years Maria Muenz, founder and President of The Pardon Group, has been highly recommended by Criminal Defence Lawyers, Crown Prosecutors and Judges. Many of her clients come through referrals from such professionals, as well as from previous clients who have been very satisfied with her team’s efforts on their behalf.
Since the significant changes to the Criminal Records Act in 2012, clients require more assistance in preparing Record Suspension applications than ever before. The Pardon Group prides itself on remaining abreast of changing laws and regulations and is thereby able to represent clients extremely well. Since 2012, the Parole Board of Canada is scrutinizing every Record Suspension application, therefore, it is of vital importance that your application is handled by competent, knowledgeable and compassionate professionals, who will work tirelessly to optimize your chance of success. With nearly 15 years of experience in the area of Record Suspensions (formerly Pardons) and U.S. Waivers, Maria has perfected the skills necessary to effectively represent her clients.
The Pardon Group provides services in English, Spanish and Italian, and Maria has frequently worked in the Criminal Courts providing translation in all of these languages, in addition to bringing these same skills to her diverse clientele at The Pardon Group.
Unlike many of their competitors, The Pardon Group provides personalized representation to each of their clients and fights vigorously to obtain the best results. The Pardon Group prides itself on being able to solve unique and exceptionally complex cases and goes the “extra mile” for their clients with a very high success rate in obtaining Record Suspensions and US Waivers for their clients. But don’t just take our word for it; please read reviews from our satisfied customers and judge for yourself.
“In 2012 after waiting more than 2 years the Pardon Company I had hired to do my Pardon informed me they had no success in getting the extra documents the Parole Board had requested. Therefore they sent me back my file and asked me to get the documents on my own. I had no Knowledge of where or how to go about it, So a friend of mine told me to contact The Pardon Group. Maria was able to obtain these documents and from start to finish, she was not only professional and competent, but had great compassion and empathy for my situation. I got my Pardon in a timely manner. I highly recommend The Pardon Group to anyone who needs a Pardon.” H.D.
“Maria helped me immeasurably with receiving my US waiver, but more importantly with all of the red tape and idiosyncrasies involved in applying and waiting for approval. Maria is professional, informed and very understanding. I received my first two waivers for six month periods and finally received a five year waiver on my third application. I feel this would not have happened without Maria’s guidance and step by step instructions!! Maria has knowledge and access to exacting application requirements and is the answer to anyone needing help with any waiver/pardon documents. On a scale of 1 to 5, Maria and the Pardon Group rate a 5+ based on my proven results.” LK. Calgary, AB
“Results are what matter! Maria, made my family vacation to Disneyland a breeze, with my U.S waiver. Then, shortly after my Canadian Record Suspension (pardon) followed and I no longer had to worry about Pre-employment Background Checks. Which seem to be more and more common these day’s. I missed out on three previous positions, due to background checks, which spurred me to seek out ” The Pardon Group “. Maria, did everything and guided me to a successful outcome. I have a very serious past which was easily overcome with the help of “The Pardon Group “. John – Calgary, AB
“My experience working with Maria Muenz to obtain a U.S. Waiver for travel was extremely positive. She was courteous and professional, she provided me with step-by-step instructions in compiling my application package and offered guidance in every aspect of the process. She was very knowledgeable of the details and requirements. I was very happy when I was granted the U.S. Waiver for travel and attribute the positive result wholeheartedly to her efforts. I look forward to working with her again to apply for a Record Suspension. I highly recommend Maria Muenz and her staff to anyone looking for legal consultation.” G.P-D
“Like many people, I made some mistakes early in my life and I felt as though I couldn’t overcome them to be the person I wanted to be and reach some of my life goals. When I met Maria, she was very positive and helped me through the process of overcoming the challenges I created early in my life. She’s always there when you have any questions, no matter how urgent. Maria is an amazing person first and foremost and no matter what, she’ll help you with any problems you may face. I’m a much better person now after her help, and anyone else who needs her help will be as well.” T.S.
“My experience with the pardon group was a very positive and a productive one. MM was supportive and gave me expert advice to obtain my first and fifth year us waivers. MM is very professional and treated me with respect without any prejudice. I strongly recommend the pardon group to anyone who requires this service.” DW
Record Suspensions (Pardons):
According to the Government of Canada website “A record suspension allows people who were convicted of a criminal offence, but have completed their sentence and demonstrated that they are law-abiding citizens for a prescribed number of years, to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records”. If successful in obtaining a record suspension your criminal record will be removed (not erased) from the Canadian Police Information Centre database-meaning that a search of the database will not show that you have a criminal record. Your criminal record will not automatically vanish after a certain number of years so obtaining a record suspension is key. This is helpful for employment and educational opportunities, travel, child custody, immigration, volunteer opportunities etc.
In March 2012, Canadian Parliament passed legislation that not only changed the name from pardons to record suspensions, but also instituted some new procedures, as well as new eligibility rules. Record suspension applications require a personal review of your offense, some explanation as to how and why it occurred as well as a review of your current circumstances. Each record suspension application is assessed by the Parole Board of Canada to determine whether or not a candidate is deserving of a record suspension.
Do I need a lawyer to complete a record suspension/pardon application?
You do not need a lawyer to complete your record suspension, although The Pardon Group works closely with Criminal lawyers and are located in the offices of one of the most respected criminal law firms in Calgary. The Pardon Group has all of the resources, in addition to nearly 15 years of experience, to get your record suspension approved.
Am I eligible for a record suspension/pardon?
For summary convictions, a record suspension is available to you after five years from the date of conviction. For indictable offences, record suspensions are available after 10 years from conviction. In addition, to be eligible, your sentence must be served in its entirety. For cases of probation, all fines, surcharges, restitution and compensation must be paid in full. You do not need to be a Canadian citizen or resident of Canada to apply for a record suspension. Please note that Canadian record suspensions are not recognized by the US customs and border authorities. You will likely need to apply for U.S. waiver as well.
How long will it take to obtain a record suspension/pardon?
A Canadian record suspension takes a minimum of six months but is dependent upon the complexity and length of your record. It is also dependent upon the number of locations in which you were charged. If you have been charged with an indictable offence, the process will take longer-approximately 12 months.
Can my criminal record still be accessed once I receive a record suspension/pardon?
Once you have received your record suspension, no one, including the police and customs, can access your sealed record without written permission from the Parole Board of Canada. Your record suspension can be revoked, however, by the parole board if you are convicted of another criminal offence after the pardon has been granted.
A U.S. Waiver of Inadmissibility allows Canadian citizens whose criminal record makes them inadmissible to enter the United States, to travel to the United States. U.S. Waivers are granted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Customs and Border Protection. You will require a U.S. Waiver if you are a Canadian citizen and have been denied admission to the United States, or are likely to be denied admission because of your criminal history. In order to travel to the United States in this case you must be granted a U.S. Waiver of Inadmissibility. In addition, you must be deemed admissible for entry to the United States, even if that is not your final country of destination (i.e., just flying through).
Not all Canadian citizens with a criminal record require a U.S. Waiver in order to travel to the United States. Only crimes of ‘moral turpitude’ exclude individuals from entry to the United States. This includes most serious Canadian criminal offences, as well as convictions for possession or trafficking of controlled substances (drugs). Also included are most crimes of dishonesty, including theft, possession of stolen property and fraud. DUI convictions and simple or common assaults do not make one inadmissible to enter the United States, although multiple convictions can lead to inadmissibility.
Both driving across the border and flying carry the same risk of being denied entry in to the United States if you have a criminal record and have not received a U.S. Waiver. Each Port of Authority, whether an inland border or an airport, follow the same requirements and procedures. Furthermore, even if you have never been stopped in the past while travelling to the United States with a criminal record, you may suddenly be denied entry and require a U.S. Waiver at any time. If you have been denied entry to the United States once, it is not a good idea to try again without obtaining a U.S. waiver as this could result in being banned from the United Stated for an extended period of time.
You still require a U.S. Waiver even if you have received a Canadian Pardon or Record Suspension. In order to travel to the United States freely (both by car or plane), you will need a separate approval by way of a U.S. Waiver. Although the United States does not recognize a Canadian Pardon or Record Suspension, it does benefit your U.S. Waiver application to apply for both at the same time. Homeland Security favourably views individuals who have either already obtained their Pardons or Record Suspensions when making application for their Waiver or are in the process of doing so.
A U.S. Waiver application includes, among other components, retrieving your Criminal Record of Conviction from the R.C.M.P National Criminal Records Repository in Ottawa and obtaining all documents pertaining to your criminal convictions from every court where your case(s) was heard, etc. Once all the supporting documents have been acquired, you will need to apply for your U.S. Waiver at any major port of entry, at the U.S. border or at a pre-clearance office in Canada. You are eligible to apply for a U.S. Waiver at any time after receiving your criminal conviction, however the Department of Homeland Security normally requires a period of good conduct since your last offence. Once your application has been submitted, the approval process can take between 6-8 months, depending on the number of convictions.
Once you have successfully obtained a U.S. Waiver of Inadmissibility, it is valid anywhere from six months to five years and must be renewed thereafter. The length of time for which a waiver is issued is dependent upon the nature of the criminal offence, the number of offences and the how recent the offence occurred. In our experience at The Pardon Group we have seen six months, one year, three-year and five-year waivers granted. You should plan to apply for a renewal U.S. Waiver within a year of its expiry date. There are no further restrictions on your travel to the United States, once you have received a U.S. Waiver. You may travel to the United States as many times as you wish until the Waiver expires. In unusual cases a Waiver may be granted for a specific period of time, and only allowing for trips of a certain nature. For example, for business, for educational purposes or family emergencies.
The department of Homeland Security has the power to deny any application where they feel the individual applying may be a danger to American society. If you are denied a U.S. Waiver you may have grounds to appeal. If your appeal has merit, and you provide documents to support your claims, you can appeal the decision to deny your U.S. Waiver.
If you are considering obtaining a waiver, or would like to know more about it, please contact our office and we would be happy to explain the process further and what we can do to help.
1. What does a Record Suspension (formerly known as a Pardon) do?
A Record Suspension is granted by the Parole Board of Canada and seals your criminal record.
2. Why do I need a Record Suspension?
You need a Record Suspension when you have been convicted of a criminal offence in Canada.
3. How would a Record Suspension benefit me?
A Record Suspension will give you peace of mind when faced with: criminal background checks, job promotions, education or career advancement, immigration (including citizenship application) and volunteer positions. It will also remove any real or perceived stigma, which is often attached to having a criminal record.
4. Do I need a Record Suspension if I received an Absolute or Conditional discharge?
No, you do not need to apply for a Record Suspension if you received an Absolute or Conditional discharge.
5. When can I apply for my Record Suspension?
You can apply after five years if you have been convicted of a ‘Summary offence’ (less serious offences); or, after 10 years if you have been convicted of an ‘Indictable offence’ (more serious offences).
6. Are there any requirements other than the waiting period?
Yes, you must have fully completed your Sentence including: payment of fines, surcharges, and all restitution and compensation orders. You must also have been of good conduct since your last conviction. That is, you cannot have been convicted of any additional criminal offences.
7. How long will it take to get my Record Suspension?
For ‘Summary offences’ it will likely be complete within six months. If you have ‘Indictable convictions’, it will likely be completed within one year.
8. Do I have to be a Canadian citizen, living in Canada, to apply for a Record Suspension?
A person may apply even if he or she is not a Canadian citizen or a resident of Canada.
9. Can my Record Suspension ever be taken away or revoked?
Yes, the Parole board of Canada may revoke your Record Suspension if you are convicted of additional criminal offences after receiving your Record Suspension.
10. Will a Record Suspension allow me to travel to the United States?
No, Canadians with criminal Records must make an application to the department of Homeland Security of the United States for a US Waiver of Inadmissibility.
11. If I am asked about my criminal record when applying for employment, but after I have received my record suspension, do I have to admit that I have a criminal record?
No, you cannot be asked the question that would require you to disclose that you had a criminal conviction which has been sealed through a successful record suspension application.