When a criminal record can be expunged depends on the nature of the record. A criminal conviction record stays with you unless you take steps to receive a Record Suspension, also called a pardon. However, you may be surprised to learn that even non-guilty findings can show up on police record checks. A non-conviction record can appear after charges are withdrawn, a stay of proceedings is ordered, or acquittal after a trial is granted, among other circumstances.

Thankfully, you can request that these records be destroyed. Like a criminal record, they will not go away on their own. Often, there is a specific waiting period before records are purged. Stayed charges have a waiting period of one year, for example, and a peace bond will stay with you as long as it is valid.

However, the RCMP will not always purge a non-conviction upon request. If the records are related to certain crimes, such as first- or second-degree murder, aggravated assault or sexual offences, it will remain on the books for five years from the date of the court decision. The RCMP can also keep the records on the basis of “compelling” reasons, such as if the individual has an outstanding criminal charge in the courts.

Taking steps to remove your police record history is important to safeguard your privacy and prevent any future barriers to employment or travel. You must request that records be purged by contacting the specific police agency. If you can’t do it yourself, you can get help from an organization that knows the system and is committed to working on your behalf.