Area of Law: Criminal Records
Answer # 2166
RCMP file purge for dischargesRegion: Ontario Answer # 2166
What are Discharges?
A discharge means there is a finding of guilt but no conviction. This may seem confusing because the legal concept of a discharge is difficult to understand at first. Essentially, instead of saying to the accused, “You are convicted,” the judge would say, “You are discharged.” In either case the offence can be the same, and so too can the punishment. But how criminal records resulting from a conviction or a discharge are removed, is very different. The conviction requires an Record Suspension while the discharge requires a purge (by the RCMP) and also a destruction or purge by the local police.
There are two types of discharges: absolute and conditional. With an absolute discharge there is no sentence or condition to be satisfied. A conditional discharge, as the name suggests, carries one or more conditions that must be met by the accused, typically, probation for one year or completion of community service. In either case you will need to have your record purged by the RCMP as well as destroyed by the local police which charged you.
What is a File Purge?
The RCMP is responsible for purging those criminal records that result in an absolute or conditional discharge. When a file is purged, the RCMP transfers it to a special repository (data bank) awaiting final destruction. The law mandating that the RCMP purge discharge records is section 6.1 of the Criminal Records Act (CRA). Once the file has been purged the CRA states, “No record of a discharge … that is in the custody of the Commissioner or of any department or agency of the Government of Canada shall be disclosed to any person, nor shall the existence of the record or the fact of the discharge be disclosed to any person, without the prior approval of the Minister…”
The CRA states that “… a discharge referred to in section 6.1 may be disclosed to a police force if a fingerprint, identified as that of the person, is found
(a) at the scene of a crime during an investigation of the crime; or
(b) during an attempt to identify a deceased person or a person suffering from amnesia.”
The RCMP automatically purge discharges that were registered after July 24, 1992. In fact, the RCMP will purge discharges registered prior to that date if the file is brought to their attention. It is still a good idea, however, for the individual to ensure that the purge was completed.
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, refer to our criminal law section.
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