Welcome to JFCY’s Legal Wiki which provides information about the legal rights of children and youth in Ontario; this information is also available in Publication format. Please contact us if you have any questions or trouble finding the information that you seek. You should speak to a lawyer for legal advice since laws often change.
There is no set definition of “Criminal Record”. The term is confusing, and the Criminal Records Act does not define what a criminal record is.
Many people use the term “Criminal Record” to describe the record of conviction received after you have been convicted of a criminal offence as an adult. However, the term may also be described as other information a law enforcement agency has collected about you, including both conviction and non-conviction incidents and offences.
You may request a copy of your record of conviction from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). To obtain a Criminal Record Check from the RCMP you must submit a full set of all ten fingerprints. As of July, 2014 you must submit these fingerprints electronically for any civil matters.
To get a copy of your electronic fingerprints, you may go to your local police service or to an accredited company (note: these companies will charge a fee to take your fingerprints, so best to check with your local police service first to see if they can do this at a lesser cost).
Once you have your fingerprints the local police service may submit the Criminal Record Check Application for you. You should check with them when you are obtaining your fingerprints.
There may or may not be a cost to the Criminal Record Check itself, on top of any local service fees required for fingerprinting. Some Criminal Record applications are processed for free (for example, if you require the check for a volunteer position) while others are subject to a $25 CAN fee. For more information see: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cr-cj/steps-etapes-eng.htm.
a) Toronto Police Service – Clearance Letters
You may request a “Clearance Letter” from the Toronto Police Service. A Clearance Letter will be issued if you have no record of criminal conviction on the National Repository of Criminal Records, as maintained by the RCMP, or any outstanding criminal charges before the courts.
A Criminal Conviction includes a finding of guilt, for which you were put on probation, served a sentence, paid a fine or a combination of. The Toronto Police Service does not release “non-conviction” findings as part of a record of conviction release. Non–convictions, which will not appear on a Clearance Letter include court dispositions such as: withdrawn, dismissed, not guilty, stayed, acquittal, discharge, diversion or absolute/conditional discharges when all conditions have been met.
If you have any criminal history, you may be required to submit fingerprints in order to verify that you do not have a criminal conviction on record.
Clearance Letter requests cost $20.00. See the Toronto Police Service website for more information.
b) Vulnerable Sector (VS) Check
If you are seeking employment or volunteering opportunities working with a vulnerable population, then you may require a “Vulnerable Sector Check”. A vulnerable sector of the population includes children and other young persons, the elderly, or any other group that are at a higher risk than the general population of being harmed by a person in a position of authority or trust.
The Vulnerable Sector Check will include any record of criminal conviction, outstanding charges, probation information (including peace bonds, restraining orders, and reporting conditions), any prohibition you may have (for example, prohibition to have weapons), and information on whether you are suspected of committing a criminal offence. The VS Check will include information on contacts you have had with the police under the Mental Health Act, namely, if you have been transported to a medical facility due to a mental illness.
In addition, the VS Check will include information on any past allegations or charges related to sexual offences, even if you were a minor when those allegations took place. If you are concerned about this, or have had such an occurrence appear on a VS Check, contact Justice for Children and Youth for assistance.
You must seek the Vulnerable Sector Check through your local police service. In Toronto, a Vulnerable Sector Check report is available through the Police Reference Check Program. You must consent to the disclosure of any record.
Importantly, you must give your consent to mental health records being divulged to a potential employer specifically indicating if you agree to have such records included.. For more information, see the Toronto Police Service website.
Suspending Records of Conviction
If you have been convicted of a criminal offence as an adult you can get your record of conviction suspended by applying to the Parole Board of Canada. For more information, see the Records Suspension section.
All other records – Destruction
Non-conviction criminal records related to your interactions with the criminal justice system or law enforcement agents may be held by local police services and/or the RCMP databases. You can request the destruction of your records at both the local police service and/or directly with the RCMP. If your request is denied, you can usually ask for the service to review or appeal the decision. Procedures are different for each police service.
If you are having problems getting your records destroyed, contact a lawyer for more information or the Street Youth Legal Services lawyer at JFCY.