We use the term “non-conviction information” or “non-conviction police records” to describe police records where a person was never convicted of any criminal offence (they may have never even been charged). Police records can be broken down into four categories, three of which are non-conviction records. The non-conviction categories include “police contacts”, “non-conviction dispositions without a finding of guilt” and “non-conviction dispositions with a finding of guilt”. Explanations and examples of each category of police record are provided in the table below. For more detailed information see On the Record: An Information Guide for People Impacted by Non-Conviction Police Records in Ontario.
It is important to note that this table shows adult records. If a person under 18 has an interaction with police or the criminal justice system, it that may result in a youth record. For more information on youth records, see the information provided on the Justice for Children and Youth website.
|1. Police Contacts||These types of police records can be generated when an individual has non-criminal interactions with the police, or if they were never formally charged with a criminal offence.
|2. Non-Conviction Dispositions – No Finding of Guilt||These types of police records are created when a person is charged with a criminal offence, but not found guilty in court.
|3. Non-Conviction Dispositions – Finding of Guilt||A person who is charged with and found guilty of a criminal offence may be given a discharge. Discharges are findings of guilt, but they are not criminal convictions. There are two types of discharges:
|4. Criminal Convictions||A person who is charged with and found guilty of a criminal offence can also receive a criminal conviction. You will have a conviction if you are found guilty and sentenced to any of the following:
Fine or forfeiture (e.g. you are required to pay a fine (money) or give up property)
The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) has written a voluntary guideline – the LEARN Guideline for Police Record Checks – that many police services in Ontario follow.
This LEARN Guideline was last updated in June 2014 and provides direction to police services on how to process police record checks, what types of police record checks should be offered and what is disclosed at each level of check. Because the guideline is not mandatory, however, your local police service may not follow the 2014 version or offer all three levels of record check (described below). It is always best to contact your local police service’s Records Manager to find out what that police service’s policies and practices are.
|Level of Check||What information does it disclose?|
|1. Police Criminal Record Check||
|2. Police Information Check||
|3. Police Vulnerable Sector Check||
*For a full list of offences that can be unsealed if an individual requests a Police Vulnerable Sector Check, see Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 of the Criminal Records Act.
** The Exceptional Disclosure Assessment is a four step process outlined in the OACP LEARN Guideline on pages 33-34 that provides police officers a tool to determine when non-conviction information may be disclosed on a Police Vulnerable Sector Check.
In 2014, the LEARN Guideline was updated to prevent the disclosure of records of police contact (including mental health contacts) on any level of record check. Non-conviction dispositions (i.e. where a person was charged with a criminal offence but not convicted) are also not to be disclosed, except for rare and exceptional circumstances on the most detailed level of check.
The LEARN Guideline is not mandatory. Police services may decide whether or not to follow the Guidelines. To find out what level checks your local police service provides, and to what extent they comply with the 2014 LEARN Guidelines, contact your local police service directly and speak with the Records Manager.