Unfortunately, many people plead guilty without a thorough understanding of the consequences of their guilty plea.
Even simple traffic convictions may lead to higher insurance premiums and in some cases, uninsurability. Novice or hybrid drivers who plead guilty to certain infractions will be subject to Novice Driver Escalating Sanctions and will receive an automatic licence suspension in addition to any other penalty.
In the criminal context, being charged with and being convicted of certain offences may bar you from entering the United States. It is illegal to attempt to enter the U.S. with certain criminal convictions. U.S. immigration officers will ask for identification for the purpose of conducting an RCMP computer criminal record search. Once your record has been discovered, the immigration officer will download your criminal record into the U.S. computer system, and as a result, you will have an INS and an FBI file. Once you are denied access to the U.S., you will be required to apply for a U.S. entry permit called a U.S. Entry Waiver. If you are caught trying to enter or being in the U.S. illegally, American immigration officials have the right to confiscate your vehicle and your personal property. You will have great difficulty trying to get them back. In most cases, confiscated vehicles and property are not returned. Proceeds from the sale of confiscated property belong to the American Government.
Drinking and driving offences also carry serious consequences. For a first-time convicted impaired driver there is a minimum sentence of a fine of not less than $1000 and a license suspension for 12 months. Eligible drivers may reduce their license suspension to a minimum of 3 months if they participate in the ”Back on Track” program. The fee for this program is $578.00. Upon successful completion of the program, these drivers may be reinstated subject to an ignition interlock licence condition and must not drive unless an approved ignition interlock device is installed on their vehicle. These drivers must enter into a lease agreement for an approved ignition interlock device. Ignition interlock fees alone are around $1400. There will also be increased insurance costs.
On the 13th day of March, 2012, Bill C-10, an omnibus crime bill, received royal assent. This wide-ranging legislation mandates mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes and other offences, eliminates house arrest for violent offenders, stiffens jail terms for child predators, eliminates the concept of pardons, replacing it with “record suspensions” which are sometimes unavailable for serious crimes and limits judicial discretion in the sentencing of certain offenders. The result of this legislation is that it will lead to more trials and to more plea bargaining for persons who may not wish to face mandatory minimum sentences. Overall, this legislation will lead to greater consequences for those persons charged with certain offences.
Most criminal convictions will have consequences with respect to you serving as a volunteer, being bonded and applying for a law enforcement or military career. It may prevent you from obtaining a licence for some professions and vocations. A criminal conviction may also effect your immigration status.
It is important that you exhaust all other options before you decide to plead guilty to an offence that may have serious and long term consequences for your future.