Justin is 18 and a Canadian citizen. Four years ago, he got into a fight at school and was charged with assault. Justin pled guilty and was sentenced to a conditional discharge. Justin completed all requirements of the sentence. Since then, he has put the incident behind him, and hasn’t had any other charges or interactions with the police.
Justin’s friends are going to
next weekend to see a concert, and he really wants to go with them. He is wondering if his old charge of assault
will prevent him from being admitted across the border into the Buffalo, New York . USA
|Photo: Associated Press, http://www.buffalopost.net/?tag=border-crossing|
Youth records relating to a conditional discharge sentence for a youth charge are sealed three years after the finding of guilt, as long as that youth has not re-offended.
Justin’s youth record is sealed, since more than 3 years have passed since he was found guilty and sentenced. This means that this info would not show up in a criminal records check or in the local police files.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t run into problems at the border.
There is no absolute right for a foreign national to enter another country. The
discretion to refuse entry to anyone, for any reason. USA
Generally, other countries (such as the
USA) are not given access by to information about Canadian
youth records. By contrast, the Canada has access to criminal records
information for adults through the
Canadian Police Information Centre (”CPIC”) database. USA
This means that if a
runs Justin’s name through the CPIC database, then it will NOT result in a hit
and thus no information about Justin’s past youth record will be available to
the border official. USA
However, in some cases, other countries do find out about youth records, especially while they are open.
One way that they find this information out is if they ask a young person who is crossing the border about their record and the young person tells them about it. Once the
obtains information about anyone’s record they have the right to keep that
information indefinitely. USA
States did obtain information about Justin’s record in
the past, they can decide to keep it on file after his record is sealed in . Information about his record can then can be
used as grounds to keep him from crossing the border in the future. Canada
When Justin heads to Buffalo this time, if he is asked about whether he has a youth record or current charges, he can truthfully say “no”, since he completed his sentence AND his youth record has been sealed. (Note though, that if Justin’s record had not yet been sealed, then answering “no” would not be truthful.)
already this info about his
record on file (say, for example, that he told them two years ago when he
crossed the border), it is—unfortunately—impossible to know if Justin will be
denied entry. It will likely be up to the individual border guard at the US crossing to
decide whether or not Justin can cross. Buffalo
For people who have been refused entry to the
there are some applications that can be made to the USA Department of Homeland
Security to seek a waiver or to seek a correction of inaccurate information that
has led to a person not being allowed into the country. USA
If you live in
and have questions about how your youth record will affect your ability to
travel, or if you have been refused entry to the because of your youth record,
then please contact JFCY to speak to a lawyer about your specific legal
For more information:
USA Department of Homeland Security Traveller Redress Program” http://www.dhs.gov/dhs-trip
Canadian Department of Justice: Information About Youth Records, http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/pi/yj-jj/information/rec-dos.html
JFCY info on youth records: http://www.jfcy.org/ycj-records.html
This post was written by JFCY volunteer Krista Nerland, with info from a JFCY staff lawyer.