Your youth record does NOT automatically disappear when you turn 18. Instead, the law sets out a period in which the record is open and can be accessed by people that are authorized by the law, like the Crown Attorney, before it is sealed. The relevant law is called the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
How long your record will lasts will depend on:
- 1. The seriousness of the crime you committed
- 2. The sentence you were given, AND
- 3. Whether you commit another crime while you still have an open youth record for a previous crime.
If you get an Absolute Discharge, then your record for this offence will be open for one year after being found guilty of the offence. If you receive a conditional discharge, then your record for this offence will be open for three years after being found guilty. If you get EJS (extrajudicial sanctions) then this will be on your record for two years from the date you agree to do EJS.
For more serious sentences (like probation and custody), the length of time your record is open depends on the seriousness of the crime. For instance, if you were found guilty of a summary conviction offence, which is a lower level offence, then your record will be open for three years after you complete your sentence. But if you are found guilty of a more serious offence, known as an indictable offence, your record will be open five years after your sentence is completed.
And if you committed a really serious offence, like murder, manslaugher, attempted murder or aggravated sexual assault, your record may be open indefinitely.
If you have an open youth record and then are found guilty of a new crime while charged as a youth, then the time period starts fresh: this means that the original offences will be open until the retention period for the new offences is complete.
Finally, if you have a youth record that is still open when you turn 18, and you commit another offence before it is sealed, your youth record will become part of your permanent adult record.
For more on youth records, go to http://www.jfcy.org/ycj-records.html
To talk to a lawyer about your own record and questions you have about when it will be destroyed, please call JFCY at 1.866.999.5329 if you are in Ontario.
This post was written by JFCY volunteer Krista Nerland, a law student at UofT. Reviewed by JFCY.