Understanding Youth Criminal Records
If you were charged as a young offender you will not need to apply for a pardon but you will still have a criminal record that will remain accessible for a certain period of time.
All the same criminal record information is recorded for a young offender charge that is recorded for an adult charge. This includes fingerprints and photographs, court records and an entry in CPIC.
Please note that if you were subsequently charged as an adult the youth record will then become a part of your permanent adult criminal record. To have it removed you will need to apply for a pardon / record suspension, thereby complicating the application process.
How long do youth records remain active?
Below is the legislation from the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which is confusing. This is to be expected since all legal writing is intentionally complicated. But let’s try to make sense of it.
Accessibility of Records
Period of access: This is the amount of time the RCMP, Police, Court, etc are allowed to access a youth criminal record.
(2) The period of access referred to in subsection (1) is
- (a) if an extrajudicial sanction is used to deal with the young person, the period ending two years after the young person consents to be subject to the sanction in accordance with paragraph 10(2)(c);
Explanation: An extrajudicial sanction is a measure the police are permitted to use instead of sending a young offender to court. This allows him / her to avoid being tried and sentenced by a judge. If this measure is used the record of arrest can be accessed for two years after the young person accepts the sanction.
- (b) if the young person is acquitted of the offence otherwise than by reason of a verdict of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder, the period ending two months after the expiry of the time allowed for the taking of an appeal or, if an appeal is taken, the period ending three months after all proceedings in respect of the appeal have been completed;
Explanation: If the young person is found not guilty – rather than not responsible because of mental disorder, etc – then the records should be sealed 3 months following the end of the period in which the crown is permitted to appeal the decision.
Or, if an appeal is made then the record should not be accessible 3 months after the appeal process has finished.
An appeal on an acquittal verdict must be served within 30 days after the day of the acquittal.
- (c) if the charge against the young person is dismissed for any reason other than acquittal, the charge is withdrawn, or the young person is found guilty of the offence and a reprimand is given, the period ending two months after the dismissal, withdrawal, or finding of guilt;
Explanation: Strangely enough this one is pretty straight forward – if the charges are dropped, the record should be sealed two months afterwards.
- (d) if the charge against the young person is stayed, with no proceedings being taken against the young person for a period of one year, at the end of that period;
Explanation: Record should be sealed one year after a stayed verdict.
- (e) if the young person is found guilty of the offence and the youth sentence is an absolute discharge, the period ending one year after the young person is found guilty;
Explanation: The record should be sealed one year after an absolute discharge.
- (f) if the young person is found guilty of the offence and the youth sentence is a conditional discharge, the period ending three years after the young person is found guilty;
Explanation: The record should be sealed three years after a conditional discharge.
- (g) subject to paragraphs (i) and (j) and subsection (9), if the young person is found guilty of the offence and it is a summary conviction offence, the period ending three years after the youth sentence imposed in respect of the offence has been completed;
- Explanation: If found guilty of a summary offence the record is sealed 3 years following the completion of the sentence.
- (h) subject to paragraphs (i) and (j) and subsection (9), if the young person is found guilty of the offence and it is an indictable offence, the period ending five years after the youth sentence imposed in respect of the offence has been completed;
Explanation: If found guilty of an indictable offence the record is sealed 5 years following the completion of the sentence.
- (i) subject to subsection (9), if, during the period calculated in accordance with paragraph (g) or (h), the young person is found guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction committed when he or she was a young person, the latest of
- (i) the period calculated in accordance with paragraph (g) or (h), as the case may be, and
- (ii) the period ending three years after the youth sentence imposed for that offence has been completed; and
- (j) subject to subsection (9), if, during the period calculated in accordance with paragraph (g) or (h), the young person is found guilty of an indictable offence committed when he or she was a young person, the period ending five years after the sentence imposed for that indictable offence has been completed.
Explanation: If a person is subsequently convicted of another offence while the probationary period is being completed the same 3 and 5 year waiting periods apply and the record shall be sealed at the time when both 3 and/or 5 year periods have elapsed.
This is to account for the different time frames involved in sentencing which makes it possible for the waiting period on the second offence to be completed before the first.
Waiting periods for convictions
Interestingly enough, the waiting periods on youth charges where the accused was found guilty correspond to the original 3 and 5 year waiting periods from the original pardon program. These time frames applied to adult records when applying for a pardon through the Parole Board of Canada.
Those time frames were changed to 5 and 10 years but the changes were not applied to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
It might have been an oversight. Or might be the workload involved in writing an entirely new bill just to deal with Young Offenders. On the other hand maybe it’s possible that the Tories didn’t want to apply their tough on crime rhetoric to young offenders.
Remember though. If you were charged as a youth, and then again as an adult, the youth charges become a part of the adult record where the above rules no longer apply.