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How does having a youth record affect me?

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How does having a youth record affect me?
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Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General
Public Prosecution Service of Canada

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How does having a youth record affect me?
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Reviewed: 
April 7, 2020
Answer

Youth records are private and confidential records kept by the police, the courts, and various government agencies. Your youth record can seriously affect your life, especially when you're looking for work or when you're travelling.

Youth records versus criminal records

Your youth record can include a lot of information, such as:

  • interactions with the police, even if you were not charged
  • any crimes you were charged with
  • any diversion programs you agreed to
  • a pre-sentence report
  • any crimes you were found guilty of
  • any sentences you received
  • information about whether you finished serving your sentence

They can be electronic or paper documents.

Your youth record is not a criminal record. The term “criminal record” is a special legal term in Canada that only applies to adults. There is no such thing as a criminal record for a young person.

If you're sentenced for a crime as an adult when your youth record is still open, and you have findings of guilt on your youth record, then these are converted into an adult criminal record that could last forever.

Youth records

You will definitely have a youth record if you:

  • were arrested or charged with a crime
  • participated in extrajudicial measures (EJM), where the police deal with the allegations against you without charging you
  • participated in extrajudicial sanctions (EJS), where you and the Crown agree to a youth diversion program
  • were sentenced as a young person under the Youth Criminal Justice Act

You might have a youth record even if you weren't charged with a crime. This is because your youth record includes interactions with the police even if you weren't arrested. For example, the police may have a record about you if they warned you about certain behaviour, such as shoplifting even if they didn't arrest you.

Sealing or destroying youth records

After a certain amount of time, if your youth record has not been converted into an adult criminal record, then your youth record must be "sealed" or destroyed completely. Sealing a record means that the record is permanently closed.

Your youth record is not automatically sealed or destroyed when you turn 18.

Access period

The time your youth record is open is called the access period. The length of the access period depends on:

  • the type of record
  • the type of crime
  • the outcome of your case

Access periods can range from 2 months after you're acquitted at trial to 5 years after you complete your sentence. At the end of the access period, your youth record will be sealed or destroyed.

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