Impact of Having a Youth Record


If you are suspected of committing a crime, you will have a record. You can end up with a record as soon as the police stop you. Information about you might be kept in other places also.

This article explains the consequences of having a record. Here is what you’ll learn:

  • Not everyone is allowed to see your record.
  • You do not have to ask for a pardon to have your record closed.
  • Having a record might affect your plans for study, work or travel


Who is allowed to see your record?

The police created a record about you after you were stopped. Later, other organizations involved in your case will keep information about you as well.

Youth records are usually confidential (secret). People cannot just show up at a police station and ask whether you committed a crime.

Youth Record or Criminal Record?

What is the difference between a youth record and a criminal record? Usually, only adults can have a criminal record. Teens under 18 who committed a crime will usually have a youth record, not a criminal record. But teens who get an adult punishment  will have a criminal record.

Only these people can see your record, and they need a good reason to see it:

  • your parents
  • the victims (if any)
  • the police
  • the Organisme de justice alternative or OJA (alternative justice organization). This is a community organization that will help you if an extrajudicial measure or sanction was used in your case.
  • youth workers, who work in youth centres
  • some people who work in the justice system, for example, your lawyer, a judge and the government lawyer called the criminal and penal prosecuting attorney, or simply the prosecutor


Previous Convictions

Very few people are allowed to see your record. But anyone can ask you if you have any previous convictions. A previous conviction means that you were found guilty of a crime in the past.

If you have never been found guilty of a crime, you can answer that you don’t have any previous convictions.

If you were found guilty of a crime in the past and got a sentence (punishment), you’re allowed to say no but only under these conditions:

  • The judge gave you an absolute discharge.
  • You completed your sentence, for example, you did the community work you were ordered to do, you obeyed other orders you were given, you completed your time under custody and supervision.

You do not have to ask for a pardon before you can say you have no previous convictions. Only adults must ask for a pardon.

Important exception!

If you are in court for another crime, you might have to say that you’ve had a previous conviction.   


A Youth Record Can Cause Problems

Your Studies

Do you plan to go to CEGEP or university? Most of the time, no one will ask if you were ever in trouble with the law.

But for some programs, you might have to provide a certificate of good conduct or agree to a background check. The police can help you get the required documents.

This might happen if you will have contact with young children as part of your studies. It might also happen if you want to go to a police academy or if you want to become a lawyer.

But don’t give up on your study plans without finding out more. There might be a way you can still study what you want.


Getting a Job

Most employers are not allowed to see youth records. But cities and governments can see your record before it is closed. Find out how long it takes before your record is closed.

Important! Some employers are allowed to check your background. They can ask these things:

  • Do you have any previous convictions?  You can say no if you got an absolute discharge or if you completed your sentence. Please read the section Previous Convictions  above.
  • Can you provide a document from a police department? You can usually get one after your record is closed . If you have trouble getting the document, speak to a lawyer.

What if an employer finds out that you have a previous conviction? The law says an employer cannot fire you or refuse to hire you for this reason. The only exception is if the crime you committed is related to the job.  To find out more, contact the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse  (human rights commission).



Teens who have committed a crime can still travel anywhere in Canada. But be careful if you want to travel outside the country.

Customs officers are allowed to ask you questions. You must tell the truth.

Customs officers will decide whether you can enter their countries. Each country can decide what crimes will stop you from entering the country.

Can you travel to the United States? Usually, you are not allowed to enter the United States if you committed a violent crime or a crime involving drugs or prostitution. But the customs officer can still let you into the country if you meet these conditions:

  • You were under 18 when you committed the crime.
  • You committed the crime more than five years ago.
Lying to customs officers can get you into serious trouble. Talk to your lawyer if you’re worried about this.



Have you committed a crime? Learn what can happen.

Caught by the Police? What Happens Next?
Suspected of a Crime? You Have Rights

Alternatives to Court

Extrajudicial Measures: The Police Decide
Extrajudicial Sanctions: Instead of a Trial

Going to Court

Appearing in Youth Court
Steps in the Youth Court Process
Youth Sentences
Can Teens Be Sent to Prison?
Can Teens Get Adult Punishments?

Criminal Records

What is a Youth Record?
Impact of Having a Youth Record

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.