There is a common misconception that the criminal records of young persons are sealed or destroyed when they turn eighteen. Many youths and their families are surprised to learn that turning eighteen has no effect on the accessibility of youth records.

Generally, the access period of a youth record - the time period when a record remains open - depends upon the classification of the offence and the punishment imposed by the youth court judge. These time periods are set out in section 119(2) of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. 

Young persons who re-offend may also extend the time in which their records are accessible. For example, a subsequent conviction as an adult while certain types of youth records are still open will cause those youth records to become adult records for the purposes of access (Youth Criminal Justice Act s. 119(9)). 

At the conclusion of a criminal proceeding, young persons should have a clear understanding of how long their records will be open. A record may have a negative impact upon their prospects for education, employment, volunteer positions, and their ability to travel outside of Canada.

Other considerations:

·     For more serious crimes, the prosecution may seek to have a young person sentenced as an adult. For a young person sentenced as an adult, the record is treated as an adult record (Youth Criminal Justice Acts. 117).

·     The relevant statutory provisions governing youth records are found in sections 117 to 129 of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

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