Youth and Crime

A criminal record stays with you long after you have served time in custody, done your community service or carried out your probation. In many cases, your record will still affect your life even after you turn 18, putting a major damper on that trip across the border to attend a pow-wow.  

In fact, you may have more than one kind of record trailing you. There are four different kinds of records that may be prepared about young offenders: 

  • Youth Court records
  • Police records
  • Government records
  • Private records

What is a record?
A record is a list of offences for which you have been found guilty and have received a penalty. A youth record is different from an adult record in the following ways:

• A youth record does not list convictions but instead records “findings of guilt”. Youth court records register a young person’s findings of guilt and other information about offences that did not result in a guilty finding.  

• A youth record is mandated by the Youth Criminal Justice Act whereas adult records are mandated by the Criminal Records Act. According to the John Howard Society, a full criminal record contains the following: 

    • Name
    • Date of birth
    • Personal characteristics
    • Disposition
    • Stays in proceedings
    • Withdrawn charges
    • Conviction history
    • Dates associated with each conviction
    • Jurisdiction
    • Acquittals
    • Absolute and conditional discharges

Who has access?

  • Agencies authorized in the Youth Criminal Justice Act
  • Canadian Pacific Railway Police
  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada
  • Correctional Service of Canada
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Federal and Provincial Ministries
  • Insurance crime prevention bureaus
  • Parks Canada
  • Provincial correctional services
  • Provincial court services
  • Provincial securities commissions
  • Canada Customs and Revenue Agency

Who keeps the Youth Court record?
The RCMP or municipal police forces are official keepers of criminal records through the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC).    

What are the other kinds of records? 
Police record: A record relating to any offence alleged to have been committed may be kept by the police force participating in the investigation of the offence. The record may contain information such as the offence, notes on the offence, a conviction (should there be one), a photograph of the youth and fingerprints if any were taken and any other information.  

Government records: Government records may contain details about the investigation into the offence and details about the decision to put the youth into the Alternative Measures Program instead of through the court system. Progress through the Alternative Measures Program may also be in this record. Government records are kept for the following reasons:

    • for the purposes of investigation into an offence allegedly committed by  a youth
    • for use in proceedings against a young person in a youth court
    • for use by the court in handing down a disposition to a young offender
    • in deciding whether or not alternative measures are appropriate
    • as a result of alternative measures.

Private records:  A private record is a record of any information obtained by any person or organization as a result of the use of alternative measures, or for the purpose of administering or participating in the administration of a disposition. Information such as the offence committed, the disposition given and personal information about the offender are examples of what might be contained in a private record.


What if I already have a record? 
Here are some links to key information on how your future employment and travel plans will be affected by your record. These links will also help you figure out what your legal rights are when it comes to telling people about your past: 

Getting a job with a youth record – Updated February 2005

Travelling with a youth record – Updated February 2005

Your record doesn’t end when you turn 18 – Updated February 2005

Consequences of a youth record – Updated March 2004

Other Links  A Canadian Directory of Youth Justice Resources

The Justice System and Aboriginal People: The Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission


Understanding Criminal Records

Sources:   John Howard Society
Community Legal Education Ontario People's Law School