What is a youth record?
A youth record is any document that connects a youth to a criminal case under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Youth records include all the information kept in police, court, government or non-government agency records about an individual’s involvement with the youth criminal justice system. This is much broader than an adult “criminal record”, which refers to information about particular crimes kept on a police computer system.
Like adults, a youth who is found guilty of a crime will have a criminal record. Information about his or her criminal history is kept in a file. Only certain people can read the youth’s criminal record:
- The youth
- The victim
- A police officer
- A Crown prosecutor
- A judge
- The youth worker
- The youth’s parents or guardian
- The youth’s lawyer
- The Attorney General of the Province
- The director of a jail
- The youth’s school supervisor
No one can look at a youth record after a certain period of time has passed (more on that below). An adult criminal record remains on the system and is available to police, courts and others forever, unless the person receives a pardon.
Having a criminal record can prevent a youth from travelling outside of Canada or studying at some universities. The convicted youth will usually have a record for 3 to 5 years after his or her last youth sentence is over. Sometimes the record is kept longer if the offence was very serious. Learn more about youth records.
How long does a youth record last?
You may have heard that a youth record is erased or closed when you turn 18. This is not always true. What happens to a youth’s criminal record depends on:
- the type of crime committed;
- the sentence received; and
- whether any other crimes have committed.
The time when a youth record is open is called the “access period.” During the access period only the police, court, and some others listed in the Youth Criminal Justice Act can see what is in a youth record.
Here are some examples of how long your youth record will be open to police, courts, and the others listed in the YCJA.
- If you are found guilty and your sentence is an absolute discharge – for one year after you are found guilty
- If you are found guilty and your sentence is a conditional discharge –three year after you are found guilty
- If you are found guilty of a summary conviction offence (less serious offences) and get a sentence other than an absolute or conditional discharge – for three years after your sentence is completed
- If you are found guilty of an indictable offence conviction (more serious offences) and get a sentence other than an absolute or conditional discharge – for five years after your sentence is completed
- If you commit other crimes after you have received a youth record, your record for the earlier crimes will stay open longer. If you commit other crimes when your during the access period and are over 18, your youth record becomes part of your adult record. This will be a permanent criminal record and may be publicly accessible.
For more information about youth records see The People’s Law School booklet Consequences of a Youth Record.