The criminal justice system recognizes that people who are minors and commit crimes should be protected from adverse effects of having committed a crime, due to their age.
Consequently, there are usually publication bans on the name of the young offender, as well as any other information related to the youth. There are exceptions of course, including if the youth has been sentenced as an adult and/or if the crime was particularly violent and the court believes the youth is at risk to commit another violent crime.
When it comes to youth criminal records, there are also protections in place as per the Youth Criminal Justice Act. As their privacy is protected, there are only few who can gain access to these records, including:
- The youth accused of the crime, or found guilty of the crime;
- That also includes the youth’s lawyer, guardians or parents and/or anyone else authorized by the court;
- Judges, courts and review boards;
- Crown prosecutors;
- Youth facility directors for the specific institution where the youth serves his or her sentence;
- Police officers who are a part of the case;
- The victim;
- Those involved in a youth justice conference; and
- A person who is carrying out a criminal record check for a government job.
How long before the youth records are sealed or destroyed?
That really depends on the sentence and severity of the crime and whether the youth re-offended. If the youth re-offended after turning 18, and his or her youth record is still open, then the youth criminal record becomes a part of the adult record.
If there is no re-offense, there is a limited access period during which the youth record is open.
Here are a few examples of the time it takes for a youth record being sealed or destroyed depending on the type of sentencing for the offence or the type of offence:
- If a charge is dismissed or withdrawn, then the record will be sealed or destroyed in two months;
- If the charge is stayed, and there are no further court proceedings, then the record will be sealed or destroyed after one year;
- Young offender is acquitted – but wasn’t acquitted on non-criminally responsible verdict due to mental disorder – then the youth record will be sealed or destroyed two months after the time allowed to file an appeal. If an appeal is filed, three months after all appeals proceedings are finished;
- Young offender is found guilty and receives an adult sentence. In this case, the youth record is treated like an adult record.
- If the youth committed a very serious crime, such as: murder, manslaughter, attempted murder or aggravated sexual assault, then the record could be retained indefinitely.
There are other examples that fall in between the above examples. However, if you have a youth record and want to know if it has been sealed, then you should call your local police service.
Youth Criminal Justice Act