A criminal record can put a limit on your freedoms and your opportunities. For youth, that means putting a limit on your future. It’s no wonder that young offenders and their parents so often ask, “how long does a youth criminal record last?”
In our Toronto Youth Criminal Law Myths article, we addressed the myth that youth criminal records are erased when you become an adult. In this article, we will help to create a clearer picture of how long a youth criminal record will last depending on specific circumstances.
Youth Criminal Record Access, Sealing, Destruction
The YCJA serves to better protect the privacy of young offenders. As a result, there are limitations on who can view a youth criminal record. The time when the record is open is referred to as the access period.
During the access period, the general public cannot view the record. However, there are a number of people who have access. This includes just about anyone involved in the judicial process. As well, the victim, the convicted young person and their family have access. A youth record will also show up for anyone conducting a criminal record check.
A criminal record check is a necessity for some jobs, and for all government careers.
Once the access period is over the record will be sealed or destroyed. However, in some circumstances if someone with an open youth criminal record commits a crime, and is convicted, while over the age of 18, the record becomes part of their adult record.
Factors That Influence How Long A Youth Record Lasts
There are a number of factors that can influence how long a youth record lasts. Largely these depend on the type and severity of the crime, and how it is dealt with by the court.
Type of Offence/Conviction
The type of offence committed determines how long the youth record remains accessible after completing the sentence. A summary conviction is generally three years after, whereas an indictable offence is five years after completing the sentence.
How the Offence is Dealt With
The Youth Criminal Justice Act gives judges more options in how they deal with an offence. Even if found guilty, a youth can be given a reprimand, in which case the access period is just two months. Dismissing or withdrawing the charge also results in a two-month access period.
Conditional and absolute discharges have longer one to three-year (after being found guilty) access periods. Youth offences may also be dealt with through acquittal, staying charges, or extrajudicial sanctions.
Severity of Charges
Severe offences, such as murder, may result in the access period remaining open indefinitely. There is also the potential for the youth to be tried as an adult if the Crown is seeking a longer sentence.
How Long is the Youth Criminal Record Access Period? [Chart]
The specific events and details of how a youth charge is handled may result in some deviation from this chart. The best way to understand what your child may be facing is to schedule an appointment with an experienced young offender lawyer. However, this chart will help give a clearer picture of the potential outcomes of a conviction.
|How The Offence is Dealt With/Type of Offence||Access Period (How Long Before Record is Sealed or Destroyed?)|
|Youth is acquitted (excluding verdict of not criminally responsible).||2 months after the time allowed to file an appeal, or, if an appeal is filed, 3 months after all proceedings related to the appeal are completed.|
|Charge is dismissed or withdrawn.||After 2 months.|
|Youth is found guilty and given a reprimand.||After 2 months.|
|Charge is stayed.||After one 1 year, if no further court proceedings have been taken.|
|Extrajudicial sanction is imposed.||2 years after the young person has consented to the extrajudicial sanction.|
|Youth is found guilty and given an absolute discharge.||1 year after the young person has been found guilty.|
|Youth is found guilty and sentenced for summary conviction offence.||3 years after the sentence has been completed (any subsequent offence will result in an extension).|
|Youth is found guilty and sentenced for indictable offence.||5 years after the sentence has been completed (any subsequent offence will result in an extension).|
|Murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, or aggravated sexual assault.||Record may be retained indefinitely.|
|Certain scheduled offences.||Record will be retained for an additional 5 years.|
|Youth is found guilty and receives an adult sentence.||Record is treated as an adult record, and the rules applicable to adult records apply.|
|Person is convicted of an offence committed after he or she turns 18, while the access period for their youth offence is still open.||Record for the youth offence will be treated as an adult record, and the rules applicable to adult records apply.|
Source: Department of Justice
Hire A Youth Criminal Lawyer
The best youth criminal defence lawyers in Toronto will try to work cooperatively with the family – but understand that their first priority and obligation is to their client.
William Jaksa is experienced in youth criminal law and will help your child understand their options and guide them so they can make the best possible decisions. Book a consultation today.