Youth Records in Canada

Youth Records in Canada

In Canada, there is a separate set of principles that govern criminal acts committed by youth. The “Youth Criminal Justice Act” (Y.C.J.A.) applies to those between the ages of 12 and 17 years old. With respect to the keeping of a “record”, youth are treated different than adults.

Pursuant to the Y.C.J.A., young persons are given a “youth record”, not a “criminal record”, and youth are “found guilty”, not “convicted”. The words are different on purpose in order to protect the reputation of young persons.

One of the biggest differences between adult criminal records and youth records is that there is a greater deal of privacy surrounding youth records. The Y.C.J.A. restricts access to youth records. The following is a list of bodies that are able to access youth records:

  • Agency carrying out criminal record check for a government job
  • The young person along with their lawyer or lawyers for co-accused parties
  • Crown Attorneys
  • Judges and court
  • Those involved in youth justice committees
  • Police agencies
  • Correctional facilities
  • And, other narrow exceptions

In many cases, youth records are eventually “sealed”. The period when the record is open is called an “access period”.  How long a record remains open depends on the offence, the disposition and whether the individual reoffends during the period their record is open. If an individual 18 years old or over and commits an offence while their youth record is open, the youth record will become a part of their adult criminal record. Finally, once the “access period” ends, youth records are sealed and/or destroyed.

DISPOSITION / TYPE OF OFFENCE “ACCESS PERIOD”
Acquittal  2 months subsequent to the time allowed to file an  appeal
Dismissal or withdrawal 2 months
Finding of guilt followed by reprimand 2 months
Charge “stayed” 1 year
Extrajudicial sanctions (E.J.S) 2 years (after consent to E.J.S)
Absolute discharge 1 year (after finding of guilt)
Conditional discharge 3 years (after finding of guilt)
Finding of guilt (summary conviction) 3 years (after completion of sentence)
Murder, manslaughter, attempted murder or aggravated sexual assault *Access period may be indefinite
Certain Controlled Drug and Substances Act offences 5 years
Youth that receives adult sentence *Youth record rules do not apply. Adult record rules apply
Conviction as an adult while “access period” is open as a result of youth conviction Youth record will be treated as adult record