There is often a misconception that a youth record disappears after young person reaches the age of 18. The period of time that a youth criminal record will remain accessible is dependent upon how the criminal charges were resolved. The truth is that most youth criminal records are removed after a passage of time. However youth criminal records can permanently remain where a person is convicted of a criminal offence as an adult before the youth record is removed. There are also a few serious criminal offences where a youth record may be retained indefinitely, such as murder or manslaughter.
Youth Criminal Justice Act
Young offenders are any youths who are alleged to have committed criminal offences between the ages of 12 and 17. On conviction, youth criminal records are treated differently than if that person were to have been convicted as an adult. The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) governs youth who are charged with criminal offences. One of the goals of the YCJA is to protect the privacy rights of young offenders. One way the YCJA protects the privacy rights of young offenders is to restrict access to any records of conviction.
Youth Criminal Record
A youth record is not limited to criminal convictions. Youth records include circumstances where a youth is charged with a criminal offence but the charge is; (1) withdrawn, (2) the youth is found not guilty, (3) the charge is stayed, (4) the youth receives a discharge, or (5) the youth completes extra-judicial sanctions. Therefore, youth records can contain sentencing history, record of convictions, any charges laid against a youth, and any record of arrest.
Removing a Youth Criminal Record
You do not need to apply to have a youth criminal record removed. These records are automatically removed after a specified period of time has elapsed. Depending upon how criminal charges are resolved will determine how long a youth record a youth record will remain accessible. The waiting periods listed below are referred to as the access or open period. Simply put, during this period a youth record can be accessed by various law enforcement agencies such as the police.
The following represents when a youth record will be removed after it has been resolved;
- Where a youth is found not guilty of an offence, the youth criminal record will be removed 2 months after the appeal period has passed.
- Where the criminal charges are withdrawn, the youth criminal record will be removed 2 months after the date which the charges were withdrawn.
- Where the charges against the youth are stayed, the youth criminal record will be removed 1 year later as long as the youth has no further criminal proceedings in that 1 year.
- Where extra-judicial sanctions are completed, the youth criminal record will be removed 2 years after agreeing to accept extra-judicial sanctions.
- Where a conditional discharge is imposed, the youth criminal record is removed 3 years after the conditional discharge is imposed.
- Where an absolute discharge is imposed, the youth criminal record is removed 1 year after the discharge is imposed.
- Where a young offender is found guilty of a summary offence, the youth criminal record is removed 3 years after the sentence has been completed.
- Where a young offender is found guilty of an indictable offence, the youth criminal record is removed 5 years after the sentence has been completed.
- If a young offender is convicted of murder, manslaughter, attempted murder or aggravated assault, the youth criminal record may be retained for an indefinite period of time.
Where a young offender is found guilty of a summary or indictable offence and that young person receives another conviction as a youth, the waiting period starts again from the beginning. Where a young offender is convicted of an offence after he or she has turned 18 years old and the waiting period has not ended, then the youth record will permanently become part of that person’s adult criminal record. In these circumstances you would have to apply for a record suspension to have the youth record removed. Finally, where a young offender receives an adult sentence, the conviction becomes part of that person’s adult criminal record.
Once the waiting period has ended, the youth criminal record is removed and it should no longer be accessed by any law enforcement agency.
Contact Me Today
If you are a youth or your child has been charged with a criminal offence, contact me immediately to arrange a free 30-minute consultation.
For more information about Young Offenders and the Youth Criminal Justice Act please visit the Department of Justice.