Youth and Adult Records

In Depth

What is a youth record?
It is a record of all youth convictions and extrajudicial measures.

Who can keep records of the youth’s criminal history?
The youth justice court, a review board, and any court may keep records of any case that comes before it. Police may keep records relating to any offence alleged to have been committed by a youth. The police force responsible for a particular investigation can keep records. A person or organization may keep records of extrajudicial measures or records for the administration of youth sentences.

What are the consequences of having a youth record?
It may restrict the youth in his or her choices regarding travel to foreign countries, recreation, sport, employment and college or university study. A convicted youth may have a youth record for up to five years (and sometimes even longer, depending on the offence) after he or she has completed his or her sentence including the period of probation and the payment of any fine. If another offence is committed within that time period, then the previous offence can be raised in court - especially during sentencing - and the record can remain open for a longer time. The court can even open a "closed" youth record at a later time if more offences are committed.

Who has access to information about youth records?
If a person has a youth record, the following people can or may have access to information about the youth record, depending on who is making the request and for what purpose:

  • The police officer
  • The Crown prosecutor
  • The youth worker
  • The judge
  • The victim
  • The youth
  • The youth’s parent(s) or guardian(s)
  • The youth’s lawyer
  • The Attorney General of the province
  • The director of a correctional facility
  • The youth’s school supervisor

Schools may be able to access a youth record if it is necessary to ensure that the youth complies with the order of the court, to ensure the safety of staff or students, or to promote the rehabilitation of the youth. The periods of access to the records vary and are set out in Section 119(2) of the YCJA.

How long does a record created from extrajudicial measures last?
It will be closed after two years if the youth does not commit another offence during that period. If, however, the youth does commit another offence within the two years, the record will stay open and the time will start running again from the date of the end of the new measure, sanction or sentence.

If no further offences are committed following a criminal sentence, when is the youth record destroyed?
If there are no further offences, then the record will be destroyed at the end of the "access period." Generally, the access period lasts 3-5 years after the youth completes the sentence. If probation was part of the sentence, the 3 or 5 years runs from the end of the probation period. The number of years depends on the seriousness of the offence and on the sentence received. If it is an indictable offence than it will usually be 5 years unless it is a serious violent offence and Crown has sought an adult sentence then the period will continue indefinitely and if it is a summary conviction offence it will usually be 3 years.

Can a youth record turn into an adult record?
Youth records are not automatically destroyed when the youth turns 18. It depends on how long the access period is, and whether the youth commits further offences before the required access period ends. If a further offence is committed after the youth turns 18 but still within the access period for the youth crime, the youth record may be attached to the adult record and will be subject to the adult record provisions.

If the youth is given an adult sentence for a very serious crime, his or her record is treated as an adult record. Adult records remain open for life, unless the person receives a pardon.

What happens when a youth record is destroyed or sealed?
Once the record is closed, it is either destroyed or sent to the National Archives of Canada or the Provincial Archives to be stored. Records that are stored can be used for certain purposes like research and statistics, but cannot identify the youth.