Area of Law: Criminal Records
Answer # 2107
Are provincial and municipal offences included in criminal record files?Region: Ontario Answer # 2107
Provincial offences – such as provincial driving offences – are not criminal and do not form part of a criminal record in a true sense. The same goes for municipal offences, such as making excessive noise, and removing trees on city property without a permit.
No legal authority exists for police to fingerprint or photograph someone charged with a provincial or municipal offence. Without that fingerprint information, these charges cannot be submitted to the RCMP for inclusion into the Identification data bank.
However, the charging police service can create a criminal record in their own data bank as well as in CPIC’s Investigative data bank related to provincial and municipal offences (e.g. a charge for which there is no outcome). In practice, however, the police will not waste their time to do so unless there is a compelling reason.
If the charging police service includes information about provincial and municipal offences in their own record management system, it could then be disclosed as part of a local police criminal record check (such as for employment purposes). Also, the Parole Board of Canada’s (PBC) ‘Local Police Records Check’ – a standard form needed in record suspension applications – requires charging police services to include all provincial charges and outcomes that they have on their local police service system. Therefore, although provincial and municipal offences are not technically criminal, they can be included as part of a criminal record and may be disclosed to important decision-makers. Having provincial or municipal offences included on a police records check can affect many applications, such as: Application for a Record Suspension, Employment, Liquor Licensing, and so on.
It is also important to note that in some situations, the same conduct could be considered as either a provincial or a criminal offence. Depending on what the police decide, there will be different legal tests and consequences.
For example, if an individual is driving in an unsafe manner, the police can choose whether to lay a charge of dangerous driving (which is criminal) or careless driving, which is a provincial offence.
If, for the same conduct, someone is charged with a criminal offence instead of a provincial or municipal offence, the consequences are much more severe. The person will:
- be fingerprinted (unless it is a ‘strictly’ summary offence);
- have a criminal record, no matter the outcome;
- have a criminal record accessible by all Canadian police services, and U.S.A. border officials; and
- usually be given a more severe punishment by the judge.
It also means that, regardless of the outcome of the charge, the individual will need to apply to remove his or her criminal record from the local and/or federal police files.
Once a criminal record exists, it is up to the individual to take the proper steps to have the record removed.
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, refer to our criminal law section.
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