Can I plead guilty and not get a criminal record?
As a general rule, if you plead guilty to an offence under the Criminal Code, you will receive a criminal record.
The exception to the rule is if you are granted a “discharge” at sentencing. These are granted where it can be demonstrated that it is not contrary to the public interest for you to not receive a criminal record for the conviction. Oftentimes, discharges are conditional. This means that no conviction will be entered on your criminal record. Instead, the conditional discharge will remain in the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) record for three years after the completion of your probation. At that time, the record of the discharge is sealed, meaning it will no longer appear on your record.
If you plead guilty to an impaired driving offence, you will only be eligible for a discharge if you can demonstrate that you have a substance abuse problem that will be addressed through treatment as a condition of the discharge.
If you are interested in pleading guilty and making an application for a discharge, or evaluating the possibility of a resolution without a criminal record, it is recommended that you seek the assistance of a criminal defence lawyer.
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