The Youth Criminal Justice Act is a complex piece of legislation that governs how criminal charges against young persons are to be dealt with. The Act places a high degree of importance on the rehabilitation and reintegration of young persons back into society. As the Supreme Court of Canada has said, young persons have “heightened vulnerability, less maturity and a reduced capacity for moral judgment.” So with that in mind let’s look at whether a youth criminal record is permanent.

What is a Criminal Record?

First let’s answer what exactly is a criminal record? A criminal record is a written record of criminal activity usually kept by the police or Crown prosecutor. A commonly seen criminal record is a conviction record which lists when convictions were entered and what sentences were imposed. For an adult those are permanent unless a record suspension (formerly a pardon) is obtained. Discharges stay on a criminal record for a limited period of time before they are sealed. Non-conviction information can only be disclosed in certain situations such as a vulnerable person check.

How Does A Youth Criminal Record Differ?

Since the Youth Criminal Justice Act recognizes the diminished moral blameworthiness of young persons, a youth criminal record is not permanent except in certain situations. When an entry is made on a youth record, it stays there for what is the called the access period. Depending on what happened in court the entry can stay open for as little as two months or as long as five years. After the access period ends the record is sealed or destroyed.

How Does a Youth Criminal Record Become Permanent?

There are certain scenarios when a youth record will become permanent. If a young person is convicted of a serious offence such as murder that entry may be retained indefinitely. Any adult sentences imposed on a young person will also be permanent. Finally if a young person is convicted of an offence committed after they turned 18 while their youth record was still open, that youth record will be treated as an adult record and become permanent.

Youth Criminal Lawyer

Bad decisions made by young persons do not need to follow them for the rest of their lives. If your child has been charged with a criminal offence, it is important to hire a criminal lawyer with experience in youth matters. Give Drexler Law a call at (519) 804-1799 or inquire by email for a free consultation.