Can a Suspended Sentence stop you from entering Canada?

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Whatever the reason for the initial arrest and charge, be it driving under the influence (“DUI”), reckless driving, or theft for example, once in court, the defendant is usually either found guilty of the offense or acquitted of the charges. However, there are situations where neither will apply. An example of this would be a suspended sentence. In such an instance, the court chooses not pass judgment. A series of conditions is usually attached to such a decision, and provided the applicant successfully complies with all of them, no conviction appears on the record afterwards.

But what is the impact of a suspended sentence on inadmissibility issues? In other words, can you still enter Canada with a suspended sentence? For immigration and inadmissibility purposes, authorities in Canada view a suspended sentence the same as they would a conviction. Consequently, even if you received a suspended sentence for an offense such as driving while intoxicated (“DWI”), inadmissibility would still apply.

Depending on the location where the court proceedings took place, once the conditions pertaining to a suspended sentence have been satisfied, the corresponding charges will sometimes be dismissed altogether. However, that is not always automatic. In some cases, the completion of the suspended sentence conditions only leads to the defendant successfully avoiding a conviction on his or her record. However, that does not necessarily equal a dismissal. Unless charges are clearly dismissed, inadmissibility issues can remain. Should you have particular situation you would wish to discuss, please do not hesitate to contact us.