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If you are charged with a crime in Canada, you have a right to a trial in criminal court. At the trial, a lawyer for the government will try and prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If they cannot prove your guilt, the court will find you not guilty.
Be sure you understand your criminal charges and your immigration status. If you are not a Canadian citizen, the court decision may affect your status. It may lead immigration authorities to take steps to get a “Removal Order” against you. This is an order to remove you from Canada. Here are some examples of crimes that could affect your immigration status — driving while you are drunk, stealing even if you steal something of little value, assaulting your family or other people, having illegal drugs.
What should I do if I am charged with a crime?
You need legal advice about both criminal and immigration law before you take any steps in the case. If you cannot afford to pay, you may be able to get legal help through Legal Aid Ontario. Get a lawyer as soon as possible. Tell your lawyer that you are concerned about criminal charges and your immigration status.
What can happen to my status?
If you are not a Canadian citizen and are charged with a crime, you could lose your immigration status. It does not matter how long you have lived in Canada. Immigration authorities may take steps to get a Removal Order against you. If you are a Canadian citizen, you cannot be deported from Canada, unless there were inconsistencies in your application status for Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status.
What will happen if there is an order to remove me from Canada?
If there is a Removal Order against you:
- You may be forced to leave Canada and you will need special permission from immigration authorities to return.
- Your family members who are not Canadian citizens may also have to leave Canada.
What can I do to protect my status and stay in Canada?
Get legal advice right away. If there is a removal order against you, you may be able submit an appeal to the Immigration and Refugee Board. But there are time limits, so you should act quickly. If the criminal court decides that you are guilty, you may also have the right to appeal. But again there are time limits, so get legal advice right immediately. You could apply to the National Parole Board for a pardon (now called a “Record Suspension”) if you have completed the punishment the court gave you. There is a waiting period before you can apply for a Record Suspension.
This is only general information. You should get legal advice about your own situation. Or you can get help by calling 211 Ontario.
211 Ontario is an information and referral hotline that provides help in many languages. They take calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.