Identification of Criminals Act: A Closer Look

Under the Identification of Criminals Act, individuals charged with criminal offences in Ontario (and throughout Canada) will  find themselves subjected to having their fingerprints and mugshots taken by the police. This practice is in place to maintain records that could aid in solving future crimes through fingerprint matching.

Winning Your Case: What Happens to Your Records?

But what happens if you win your case? Let’s say you were charged with a serious offence, like domestic assault, sexual assault, or break and enter, and you emerge victorious in trial or have the charge withdrawn. The question arises: Can you have your police mugshot and fingerprints destroyed?

Destroying Records: Procedure and Timelines

The good news is that, in many cases, you can. For most minor offences, there are established timelines and procedures for the destruction of fingerprints and police mugshots. It’s essential to be aware that different police forces may have varying protocols, waiting periods, and associated costs.

  • Timely Destruction: Your lawyer, familiar with local protocols, will guide you on when and how to request the destruction of your records.

Law Firm Insight: Understanding Local Protocols

A reputable law firm operating across various jurisdictions, such as ours, understands the specific protocols for fingerprint destruction in the various counties in Ontario. Knowing the local procedures and timelines is crucial in navigating this process efficiently.

Cost Considerations: What You Need to Know

While some police forces may not charge for the destruction process, others might have associated costs. Your lawyer will be well-versed in the particulars of your local jurisdiction.

  • Variability in Costs: Cost considerations may vary, with some jurisdictions allowing applications within thirty days, while others might have a waiting period of up to a year.

Decision-Making Authority: Local Force and RCMP Collaboration

The decision to destroy your mugshot and prints typically rests with the local police force, often in collaboration with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). For minor offences, this process is often initiated automatically upon request.

Challenges for Serious Offences: A Law Firm’s Experience

For more serious offences, such as sexual assault,  police forces and the RCMP have been known to refuse to destroy fingerprints and police mugshots.  This is very frustrating for individuals who won their criminal trial or where their charges were withdrawn.  

Protecting Your Privacy: The Importance of Destruction

It’s crucial to seek the destruction of these records promptly. Keeping identification records on file can raise concerns about privacy and potential issues at international borders, particularly when entering the U.S.

  • Preventing Border Issues: A clean slate, free from any reference to past charges, will help ensure smooth border crossings without unnecessary complications.

Legal Guidance: Your Lawyer’s Role in the Process

Your lawyer plays a vital role in assisting you with the application to destroy fingerprints and police mugshots, especially after your charges have been stayed, withdrawn, or you’ve won your case at trial.

Safeguarding Your Record and Privacy

In conclusion, the process of destroying fingerprints and mugshots is a critical step in protecting your privacy and ensuring that records do not linger in Canadian law enforcement databases. If you’re in a situation where your charges have been resolved in your favor, take proactive steps with your lawyer to exercise your right to a clean slate.

Explore Your Options with a Free Consultation

If you have concerns about your records or legal rights, we offer a free consultation. Contact us here to discuss your case and explore your options. Your privacy matters, and we’re here to help you navigate the legal landscape.

Video Transcription:

Under the Identification of Criminals Act, when you are charged with a criminal offence in Ontario, actually, throughout Canada, the police will typically take a mug shot, that’s a police photo of you and keep it on record and they will also take your fingerprints and palm prints and keep that on file because they want this information. This allows them to potentially solve future crimes by matching fingerprints, for example. So what happens then with your police mugshot and fingerprints if you win your case?  So let’s say you are charged with a domestic assault, a sexual assault or a break and enter and you win your trial or you get the charge withdrawn. Because the Crown thinks they have a weak case and they withdraw the charge.  So can you get these mug shots, and police identification, fingerprints destroyed?   Well you can in certain cases, for most minor offences, they are going to do that, within a timely period. By the way, each police force or local police force has different timelines to destroy fingerprints and police mugshots in Ontario. You are going to have stud the local protocol and your lawyer will know what the timelines and procedure is.  Our law firm operates in many jurisdictions across Ontario, so we know the exact protocol for most counties in Ontario.  There is usually a cost involved to destroy your fingerprints and mugshot.  Actually some of the police forces, a few of them don’t charge anything at all, but some have a waiting period where you can’t apply for a year, others, you can do it within a much shorter time period within thirty days.  But the local force in conjunction with the Royal Canadian Mounted police, will make a decision, about whether your mugshot and prints will be destroyed.  As I said for most minor offences, they seem to do it automatically upon request. For many years now, for more serious offences, such as sexual assault, we have been getting letters back from the local police and the RCMPS stating “look we will consider your application in another 7 years, but we won’t do it now”.  I think that’s very unfair; the charges have been withdrawn against your client or they won at trial; they are presumed innocent and the police should not be retaining these records in my view. So it’s very important to get them destroyed when this happens. Because you don’t want these records on a police computer, you know big brother and the big state government watching you when you do not have a criminal record. You also do not want any reference to these identification records at the U.S. border to cause problems for entering the U.S.  after your charge was withdrawn.  Make sure, your lawyer does that for you. Your lawyer should assist you in applying to destroy your fingerprints and police mugshot after your charge(s) was stayed, withdrawn or after you won your case at trial.

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