During the course of an investigation, the police have the right to take your fingerprints, photograph and create a record of the offence. If you have ever been charged with a criminal offence, it is very likely the police still have this information on record. This record can significant and long lasting consequences for your professional career, any immigration matter, as well as your personal privacy.

Unless you ask, the police will keep your photograph and fingerprint record indefinitely.

The police are frequently entitled to keep this information. Once your fingerprints have been taken, if you continue to be subject to the charge for which you were arrested, or you are later convicted of the charge, the police may lawfully retain and use that information on an ongoing basis for law enforcement purposes.

However, in some circumstances the police may not be entitled to keep these records indefinitely. If your charges are withdrawn by the Crown, or you are acquitted of the crime at trial, a request can be made to the police to have your fingerprints and photograph removed from their database. The police will usually comply with the request.

To have your photographs and fingerprints record destroyed you must fill out and submit a copy of the “Winnipeg Police Service – Application to Remove Photographs and Fingerprints” to the Winnipeg Police Services. You may obtain a copy of the form by clicking here.

Your request for the destruction of police records may be denied.

Despite the law being fairly clear, sometimes the police will deny requests to have records destroyed. If this happens, you maybe able to appeal this decision. On appeal the court will examine whether and in what circumstances, your personal privacy interest overrides the state’s law enforcement interest. If your charge has been withdraw or you have been acquitted at trial, generally the court will favour the destruction of your police records.

Most police departments will have a minimum waiting period before a person can apply to have their fingerprints and photographs removed from the police database. In most cases, it is a minimum of a six month waiting period before the police will process the destruction request, but it varies depending on how your charge was resolved.

Assert your rights.

The destruction of this information means it can never be used against you to get a warrant, during a police investigation, or in court. If you would like to discuss the destruction of police records or need legal representation for any criminal offence, please feel free to contact me. I will be glad to assist you.

Please note that this is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice to you. Legal advice pertaining to your particular situation can only be given by a lawyer who has met with you to obtain all pertinent background information necessary to give you a formal legal opinion.