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What You Need to Know About Canadian Young Offender Laws

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It is not always immediately evident if youth offenses are still visible on an adult’s police record.  In fact, youth criminal records are kept, processed, and dealt with in a different manner than those of adults.  A youth record consists of any offenses committed by a person while they were between the ages of twelve to eighteen.  These records of youth offences are not kept on federal retainer in most cases – however there are some instances where a record of youth offences will remain available if requested by a police or background check.  Obtaining a Record Suspension (or ‘Pardon’) is the best way to have the record of youth offences cleared from public view.

Broadly speaking, youth criminal records are subject to retention periods that are specific to each case and to certain stipulations laid out by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).  For example if someone is found guilty of an offense by the time they are an adult, but before the expiration of their youth offence retention period, they will still be treated as an adult.  As a result, the adult retention and disposal periods will be put into effect.

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Summary Offences and Indictable Offenses

If a young person is found guilty of a summary offense (a crime that can be dealt with without a jury trial and/or indictment), the young person’s criminal record is removed three full years after the sentence has been fulfilled.

Conversely, if a young person is found guilty of an indictable offense, (which can only be tried after a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is a sufficient evidence to mount a case at all) their record is active for five years after the satisfaction of the sentence, and then is transferred to a special repository.  This means it is still retained, but less readily available to the public.

Guilty Verdict Not Entered

If a young offender is acquitted (with the exception of not being criminally responsible due to a mental disorder) and the charge is dismissed or withdrawn, the record is kept in a special repository for the foreseeable future.

If the young person receives a reprimand, extra judicial sanctions, or is ordered to enter a recognizance to maintain good behaviour, the information is transferred to a special repository.  Extra judicial measures and other similar restorative justice measures, if applied, have their information destroyed upon being received.

Absolute and Conditional Discharges

If a young person is found guilty and subsequently given an absolute discharge, the record is transferred to a special repository one year after the sentence has been given. If a young person is instead found guilty and given a conditional discharge, the entry is transferred to a special repository three years from the date the sentence is given.

It is crucial to remember: law enforcement agencies cannot access young offenders’ information once it is moved to a special repository. Information stored in the special repository can only be released by Record Suspension and Purge Services under specific circumstances from the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Contact Pardon Applications of Canada today to discuss the options available regarding a youth offence record.