What is a purge and file destruction?

When you are arrested in Canada you always end up with a criminal record but in truth not all criminal records are created equal. A little confusion arises for people who are granted a conditional or absolute discharge from the court, as well as several other cot guilty outcomes.

A discharge is about half way to being found guilty although that is far from a perfect explanation. If you received a discharge it means that the court found you guilty but did not convict you, which sounds like nothing more than legal mumbo jumbo except that the verdict does affect how your criminal record is retained and dealt with.

The nice thing about a discharge is that it will be removed from CPIC automatically (CPIC stands for Canadian Police Information Centre and is essentially the RCMP federal database of criminal records) provided you received that verdict after 1992. If you received a discharge prior to 1992 you need to make an application to have the record removed. And the way you make the application is through a purge and file destruction. This is similar to a Canadian pardon but the paperwork is a little different.

What you want to be careful about is that even if you received a discharge after 1992 you should still process a purge and file destruction. You need to do this for many reasons. One is that you cannot always count on the police to remove your record, so it is worth making sure it gets done. The other is that the record is only removed from CPIC. Any local police and court documents, etc. will remain on file unless you apply to have them destroyed.

The bottom line is that if you have been arrested take the responsibility upon yourself and make sure you have all the records destroyed, purge or pardoned. Just make sure it gets done. Of course, if you are planning to remain criminally active don’t bother. But if you plan on putting mistakes like that behind you it is definitely something worth doing.


Comment (0)
J / June 26, 2012

Hi I was wondering if a record purge would help me. I was arrested but not convicted and it now comes up on my criminal record check as box 3 and 4. I am a nurse and can no longer get a job. I requested that my finger prints be detroyed and they have been in Jaunary from Ottawa. I also recieved this e mail saying:

For your information, please note that there are two separate set of records kept when FPS fingerprints have been taken. The first is the Identification of Criminal Act -FPS record and the second is the PRIME Police Record. Even though the Identification of Criminal Act -FPS record has been deleted, your police file record will exist from two years up to seventy years depending on the classification of the file and the concluding date of the file. The police record information will result in a “record may exist” on a Criminal Record check form and thereby subject to disclosure.
On your file the purge/destruction date will occur in the year 2016, as per the National Archives Act.

I was wondering if a record purge would remove the other set of prints that were taken and if I can get that box 3 and 4 removed off my record.

Thank you,


Raman / July 16, 2016

Heloo . . I cought in shoplifting in calgary in 2014 . But my charges were withdrawn . Now i wanna apply for file destruction . Can u plz guide me for file destruction . Thnks

Danny MacKay / March 18, 2017

I was arrested for Criminal Harassment, not Convicted and signed a Peace Bond.How can I have my records purged from the Police Database ?

Michael / March 20, 2017

Hi Danny,

You can apply online here easily enough. Simply proceed with a pardon. The only difference is that the Police and Parole Baoard fees will not apply to you and it will be taken care of much sooner.

You could also give me a call anytime.

Kind regards,

514.842.2411 x 227

C / July 11, 2018

If someone is granted a pardon would that not take care of everything? Would he still need to apply for a file destruction.

Michael Ashby / July 11, 2018

No the person would not need to apply for a file destruction. If Some companies, for example Federal Pardon and Waiver Services, charge additional money after the a pardon has been granted for exactly this purpose but in my opinion this is a clearly fraudulent business practice.

Kind regards,

ext 227


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