Lesson 3: Legal Rights for Youth

Topic 9: At the Border

Youth Rights: At the Border

Many young people think that if they commit a crime when they were a minor, then their youth record will disappear when they turn 18. This is wrong. The time your youth record lasts has nothing to do with turning 18. How old you are when your record is closed depends on how old you were when you were sentenced, and how long the sentence lasted.

Throughout Canada, there are time periods that apply to when a youth record is cloded. At the end of these time periods, youth records are closed (“sealed”) and cannot be disclosed to anyone.  Youth are no longer regarded as having committed any offence.  This is different from adult records that are permanent.

If you have an open or closed youth record, speak to a lawyer who has experience in youth criminal law before you go to the United States or other countries.

You cannot assume that the United States will not know about your record.  It is only in Canada that the law says that a youth record has to be closed after a certain period of time.  Other countries follow their own laws, not those of Canada. If another country knows about your youth record, they could keep it forever.

Scenario from the “At the Border” Video

Mike, 18 years old, plans to go down to the United States on the weekend for a hockey game. When Mike was 14, he was found guilty of possession of a small amount of dope. Mike doesn’t think there will be any problem crossing the border. View the video on the LegalRights4U website.