When you commit a crime in Canada you are charged with an offence. For more severe crimes you will face an indictable offence, and for less serious crimes you will face a summary offence. Both have specific consequences attached to them that vary with each crime. In that case National Pardon can help.

So, what happens if you commit one of these offences under the age of 18? A young offender is someone between the ages of 12 and 17 who has committed an offence. In law, young offenders are tried differently than adults over the age of 18. In cases with young offenders, they are typically sent to rehabilitation centres and cannot be sent to prison.


When young offenders have charges laid against them, it remains on their record, including any findings of guilt, sentences received and any other information regarding completed sentences. 

The time frame a youth record remains on file is entirely dependent on the outcome of the case. Young offenders are given special rights such as having their cases heard in youth courts, having their identity excluded from any media coverage of the case, and receiving less severe penalties. 


When a young offender has a minor conviction on their record it remains there for 3 years. If a young offender has a more serious conviction on their record, it remains there for up to 5 years. These time frames begin when the last sentencing was given to the young offender. 

For very serious crimes such as violent crimes or sexual assault, the conviction can remain for 10 or more years on a young offender’s record. Also, these very serious offences will remain on the young offender’s record after they turn 18 and will remain there until the end of a set amount of time. However, this isn’t always the case.

There is a length of time a youth record is open which is called the “access period.” During this access period, there are some who can see what is in a young offender’s record, including police, courts, and others. 

Different types of sentences have different lengths of access periods. 

  • Found guilty with an absolute discharge – 1 year after found guilty
  • Found guilty with a conditional discharge – 3 years after found guilty
  • Found guilty of a summary conviction offence and get a sentence other than an absolute or conditional discharge – 3 years after the sentence is completed
  • Found guilty of an indictable conviction offence and get a sentence other than an absolute or conditional discharge – 5 years after the sentence is completed

If other crimes have been committed after a young offender receives a record, their earlier records stay open longer. If during the access period the young offender turns 18 and another crime is committed, it becomes part of their adult record. This will become a permanent record that can only be removed with a pardon.


When a young offender turns the age of 18, their record should be removed following the end of the access period. 

However, if youth records have not been pardoned and later adult convictions follow, both your adult and youth records will be locked in until a pardon is received for both youth and adult records. 

If the young offender only acquired convictions before the age of 18 and no later adult convictions were added, the record of the offence will then be sealed following the end of the access period. 

If someone under the age of 18 commits a crime, they are treated somewhat differently then adult offenders, with their records being concealed after they turn 18 and their access period has ended. However, they will still have consequences and further convictions will require a pardon to be removed. 

By Manali

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