How Long Does a Youth Record Last
The record can be closed before the young person turns 18, or stay open long after that. In most cases, officials must close youth records after a certain length of time. There are exceptions, for example, if you turn 18 and are found guilty of another crime before your youth record is closed, your youth record can become a permanent adult criminal record.
The date a youth record closes depends on:
- Seriousness of the offence;
- Outcome of the case;
- Conviction of another offence while the youth record is still open.
Seriousness of the Offence
The following table shows when a youth record for various offences closes. Contact a lawyer for legal advice for your unique circumstances.
|Offence||Youth Record Closes
|Summary Conviction Offences||
|Indictable Offences||If a young person is found guilty of an indictable offence, their record will last at least five years after they finish their sentence. It can sometimes remain open to the police and to the Attorney General for 10 years or more. The five years do not start when the young person commits the offence or when they are found guilty. The five years starts when the young person has finished the whole sentence, including probation, and done everything the judge has told them to do.
Outcome of the Case
Being charged with an offence always leads to the creation of a youth record of some kind, whether or not the young person is brought to court. However, records may be created even where no charges are laid.
How long the record will last depends on the outcome of their case and the sentence, if any. Here are some possible outcomes and their impact on youth records.
Non-Court Measures or Extrajudicial Sanction
Before the police charge a young person, they must consider using non-court measures to hold the youth accountable.
For example, the police may give a young person a warning or a caution. There can be a referral, either before or after a charge is laid, to community programs or agencies that will help the youth stay out of trouble.
In all cases, the police must keep a record of non-court consequences used with a young person. If an extrajudicial sanction, the most serious kind of community-based consequence, is used, the record will stay open for two years from the date the young person admits responsibility and agrees to the terms of the sanction.
If a young person pleads guilty or is found guilty at trial and the judge gives them an absolute discharge, their record will last for one year after the judge’s decision.
If a young person pleads guilty or is found guilty at trial and the judge gives them a conditional discharge, their record will last for three years after the judge’s decision. Absolute or conditional discharges are given depending on the seriousness of the case and other factors. The young person should talk to their lawyer about this.
Sentence for Guilt of a Summary Conviction Offence
If a young person is found guilty of a summary conviction offence, their record will last for three years after they finish their sentence, including probation.
Sentence for Guilt of an Indictable Offence
If a young person is found guilty of an indictable offence, their record will last for at least five years after they finish their sentence, including probation.
If a young person is found not guilty, there will be a record for two months after the appeal period ends, or for three months after all appeals have been heard and decided. The record will show that the young person has been charged but found not guilty.
Subsequent findings of guilt before Youth Record closes
If you are found guilty of another offence before your record is closed, your youth record for the first offence may last longer. The final outcome depends on whether this happens before or after you turn 18 years old.
Before the Youth Turns 18
If the young person already has an open record, and is found guilty of another offence before turning 18, the record for the first offence may not be closed until the record for the later offence closes.
- For example: if you are found guilty of an indictable offence two years after serving a sentence for a summary conviction offence, your record on the summary conviction offence will not close at the end of three years. The conviction and sentence for the indictable offence means your record will remain open for at least five years after the end of the sentence for the indictable offence. If the sentence for the indictable offence was for six months, your record on the summary conviction offence would last for eight years instead of three.
Anyone who has access to the young person’s record during that time will see they are a repeat offender.
After the Youth Turns 18
If a person is convicted of another offence after they turn 18, and their youth record is still open, their youth record could become part of their permanent adult record. Youth Court, the police and correctional agencies will no longer be prohibited from disclosing the youth record. This does not apply to records of extrajudicial sanctions, acquittals, charges stayed or withdrawn, absolute or conditional discharges or reprimands.
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by People's Law School, 2014.|
|Consequences of a Youth Record © People's Law School is, except for the images, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.|