You have a criminal record if you committed an offence as an adult and were convicted in a court of law. You may have had contact with authorities over the course of your life. But, whether or not you have a criminal record can be a source of some confusion. Some incidents are handled differently than others, and your situation may fall into a grey area. To know for sure, you may have to look at your own criminal record to see what information it holds.

If you are over the age of 18 and have been convicted of a criminal offence, you do have a criminal record. Provincial offences, such as those related to liquor or driving, will not show up on a criminal record. You should be aware, however, that some driving offences, like DUIs, can be criminal offences that will show up on your criminal record.

You may also have been found guilty by a court but received an absolute or conditional discharge instead of a conviction. Neither is a criminal conviction. However, it will appear on your criminal record for a period of time. Since neither is a criminal conviction, you cannot get a pardon for a discharge. An absolute discharge should be sealed automatically after one year, and a conditional discharge should be automatically sealed after three.

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