A youth record is special type of information about a youth. Youth records are information about a youth’s criminal history, including all convictions and extrajudicial measures. Youth record = The criminal history of a youth’s convictions and extrajudicial measures, including extrajudicial sanctions.
Youth records are allowed to be kept by courts, review boards, people dealing with youth, and the police.
Consequences of Having a Record
Having a youth record has consequences for youth. For example, it may restrict the youth’s ability to travel to foreign countries, participate recreation and sports, to get a job, or to attend certain schools.
A convicted youth may have a youth record for up to five years (and sometimes even longer, depending on the offence) after he or she has fully completed their sentence. If another offence is committed within that time period, then the previous offence can be raised in court - especially during sentencing - and the record can remain open for a longer time. The court can even open a "closed" youth record at a later time if more offences are committed. Having a youth record may be considered in youth sentencing, resulting in a more severe penalty.
Access to Records
If a person has a youth record, the youth is entitled to know this information. Depending on their role, many individuals may have access to youth records. The people who are permitted to access youth records are listed in the YCJA. These include:
- The police officer
- The Crown prosecutor
- The judge
- The youth worker
- The youth
- The victims
- The youth's lawyer
- The youth's parent(s) or guardian(s)
- The Attorney General of the province
- The director of a correctional facility
Schools may be able to access a youth record if it is necessary to ensure that the youth comply with an order of the court, to ensure the safety of staff or students, or to promote the rehabilitation of the youth. The periods of access to the records vary and are set out in Section 119(2) of the YCJA.
Records of Extrajudicial Sanctions
Any record of extrajudicial sanctions will be closed two years after the youth consented to the sanctions if the youth does not commit another offence during that period. If the youth does commit another offence within the two years, the record will stay open, and the time will start running again from the date of the end of the new measure, sanction, or sentence.
Destruction of Records
Unlike adult records which remain open for life unless the person receives a pardon, youth records are destroyed at the end of the access period, provided there are no further offences.
Generally, the access period lasts 3-5 years after the youth completes a sentence. If probation was part of the sentence, the 3 or 5 years runs from the end of the probation period. The number of years depends on the seriousness of the offence and the sentence received. For the most serious offences (indictable offences) it will usually be 5 years. If it is a less serious offence (summary offences), it will usually be 3 years.
Youth records are not automatically destroyed when the youth turns 18. It depends on how long the access period is and on whether a youth commits further offences before the required access period ends. If a further offence is committed after a youth turns 18 but still within the access period for the youth crime, the youth record may be attached to the adult record and will be subject to the adult record provisions. Similarly, if a youth is given an adult sentence for a very serious crime, his or her record is treated as an adult record. Adult records remain open for life.
Once a youth record is closed, it is either destroyed or sent to the National Archives of Canada or the Provincial Archives to be stored. Records that are stored can be used for certain purposes like research and statistics but cannot identify the youth.