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What to Know About Youth Records – Our Guide

If you’ve had a troubled past or you’ve done a few regrettable things in your younger years, then you probably have a youth record that’s permanently kept on file. Canada is known for its strict yet effective laws regarding adult and young offenders alike, which is exactly why a youth record is kept by the government for a certain period of time.

What is a youth record?

However, if the concept of a youth record is fairly new to you, here’s some information on what it is, how it came to be, and what it entails:

A youth record is a list of any charges or convictions that have been made against any young offender in Canada for committing any type of crime. Enacted and enforced on April 1, 2003 as part of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, a youth record is a criminal record for those under the age of 18. However, unlike an adult’s criminal record, a youth record will no longer be viewable after a certain period of time has elapsed or a pardon has been granted. 

Although it may be more lenient in nature, a youth record still entails that a few restrictions be strictly enforced on youth offenders. Such restrictions include a ban on travelling outside of Canada or the ability to pursue post-secondary education at universities or colleges. After a certain amount of time has passed, these privileges will be restored as long as the person in question does not commit any more crimes. 

Here is a list of people that are authorized to view a youth record: 

  • The youth
  • The victim
  • Police services/officers
  • A crown prosecutor
  • A judge
  • The youth worker
  • The youth’s parent or guardian
  • The youth’s lawyer
  • The Attorney General for the Province
  • The director of a jail
  • The youth’s school supervisor

How long can a youth record be kept on file?

According to law, a youth conviction can be kept up for the same period of time as an adult one, but a convicted youth’s record will be closed on its own eventually. But if a youth is convicted of a summary offence, it will be made available to eligible parties for at least five years after the sentence is completed. On the other hand, if the youth is convicted of an indictable offence, the youth record will remain viewable for up to 10 years after the sentence is completed. 

Clearing up a few misconceptions

Most Canadians believe that turning 18 (or of legal age) will automatically close a youth record, but the closing of a record depends on the offence they’re convicted with, even when a youth offender turns 18. Another misconception is that a youth record and an adult record are two different things. But the truth is that if a person with a youth record commits an offence as an adult, then the contents of the Youth Record will be merged with an adult record. It will remain in an RCMP system be flagged by any background check that they wish to apply for. 

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