The youth criminal justice system is separate and apart from that of their adult counterparts. We treat youth differently than adults due to their reduced maturity. This includes providing youth with enhanced procedural safeguards and focusing on rehabilitation. The Youth Criminal Justice Act is designed to protect the privacy of persons under the age of 18 convicted of a crime by keeping their identity confidential. This means when a young person is appearing before the court, the media cannot publish any information which would identify the young person. It also means that when a young person is convicted, they restrict access to his or her youth criminal record.

Adult Criminal Record vs Youth Criminal Record

When an accused person is convicted of a criminal offence, the government keeps a record of their offence and sentence. This is known as a criminal record. For an adult, these records are often permanent, unless granted a Record Suspension (pardon). For a youth, these records have restricted access and are only accessible during the ‘Access Period’.

A Youth Criminal Record is protected by the ‘Access Period.’

As mentioned earlier for youth, the system works a bit differently. When a young person is convicted of a criminal offence, their identity is protected. This is achieved through a publication ban and having the youth criminal record subject to an ‘Access Period’. During the Access Period, a criminal record check will reveal the young person’s convictions. While subject to the Access Period, if the person is over 18 years old and is convicted of another offence, the youth criminal record is converted into an adult record. Like all adult records, it would be permanent, unless granted a Record Suspension (pardon). Once the Access Period expires, the youth record is sealed meaning it will not show up on a criminal record check. You will find below a chart that outlines the length of the Access Period according to the circumstances of the youth conviction:

How Offence Is Dealt With / Type of Offence

How Long Before the Youth Criminal Record Will Be Sealed or Destroyed? (Access Period)

Youth is acquitted (other than verdict of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder)

Two (2) months after the time allowed to file an appeal, or, if an appeal is filed, three (3) months after all proceedings related to the appeal are completed

Charge is dismissed or withdrawn

After two (2) months

Youth is found guilty and given a reprimand

After two (2) months

Charge is stayed

After one (1) year, if no further court proceedings have been taken

Extrajudicial sanction is imposed

Two (2) years after the young person has consented to the extrajudicial sanction

Youth is found guilty and given an absolute discharge

One (1) year after the young person has been found guilty

Youth is found guilty and given a conditional discharge

Three (3) years after the young person has been found guilty

Youth is found guilty and sentenced for summary conviction offence

Three (3) years after the sentence has been completed (any subsequent offence will result in an extension)

Youth is found guilty and sentenced for indictable offence

Five (5) years after the sentence has been completed (any subsequent offence will result in an extension)

Murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, or aggravated sexual assault

Record may be retained indefinitely

Certain scheduled offences

Record will be retained for an additional five (5) years

Youth is found guilty and receives an adult sentence

Record is treated as an adult record, and the rules applicable to adult records apply.

Person is convicted of an offence committed after he or she turns 18, while the access period for their youth offence is still open

Record for the youth offence will be treated as an adult record, and the rules applicable t

For information on the difference between a summary conviction offence and indictable offence…

Travel and Employment Considerations

A youth criminal record is not accessible by other countries except in rare circumstance. However, under under certain international agreements Canada may release information to foreign nations involved in the investigation of criminal offences. A youth criminal record is accessible to employers through a criminal record check and is often requested as part of their screening process. A youth may refuse to provide their criminal record, though doing so may disqualify the youth from being hired.

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.