Area of Law: Criminal Records
Answer # 2135
What is a youth criminal record?Region: Ontario Answer # 2135
A youth criminal record is information (regardless of its physical form or characteristics) created or kept for the purpose of dealing with a young person charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). In addition to records created by the police and court, the YCJA also allows records to be created for the administration of extrajudicial measures. These records are, therefore, considered part of the youth criminal record.
Extrajudicial measures are ways of dealing with young people outside of the courts, such as by:
- police warnings,
- community programs, and
- extrajudicial sanctions.
Definition of young person under the YCJA
A young person is defined in the YCJA as anyone from twelve up to and including seventeen years of age. Children under the age of twelve are excluded from criminal prosecution because, under the law, they are not considered capable of understanding their actions and the consequences of those actions. Some provinces wanted to include ten- and eleven- year-olds in the criminal justice system, but the federal government disagreed and excluded those age groups from the YCJA.
Youth records comprise less than 5 percent of the criminal records held in the RCMP Identification data bank. In comparison, Statistics Canada reported that about 15 percent of all crimes committed were by youth. The difference in these two figures may stem from how young people are dealt with under the criminal justice system. Although the youth may have been involved in crime, most often they are dealt with outside of the police and courts and their fingerprints are not taken. In order for a record to be included in the RCMP Identification data bank fingerprints must be submitted. This means that those youths who did not have their prints taken would not appear in the RCMP Identification data bank.
Definition of young person in the prior Acts
Young Offenders Act (YOA) –twelve years was the minimum age for charging a child with a criminal offence. Seventeen was the maximum age to be considered a young person.
Juvenile Delinquent Act (JDA) –seven years was the minimum age for charging a child with a criminal offence, while children under twelve years of age could only be committed to an institution if no other option was available. A provision which allowed the provinces to set the maximum legal age for defining youth led to variations. For example Quebec and Manitoba set the age at eighteen, while Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan set the age at sixteen, and Alberta set the maximum age at sixteen for boys and eighteen for girls.
More information on youth records is available from the Department of Justice, at justice.gc.ca.
For more information on removing a youth criminal record, refer to How are youth criminal records sealed or destroyed?
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, refer to our criminal law section.
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