When an individual is arrested, the police will take photographs of the accused and obtain copies of his or her fingerprints to keep on file. In many situations, individuals are able to request that the photographs and fingerprints are destroyed following resolution of their charges. If your charges proceed to trial and you are found guilty you will not be able to have this information destroyed. However, if the charges are withdrawn or resolved by way of a peace bond, it is possible to have the information destroyed. Where an individual receives an absolute or conditional discharge, the records should be sealed or destroyed after a waiting period.
If you obtain one of the resolutions listed above, the police will not automatically destroy your information. In order to have your photographs and fingerprints destroyed you must fill out and submit a copy of the “Fingerprint and Photograph Destruction – Application Form” to Toronto Police Services. You may obtain a copy of the form by visiting www.torontopolice.on.ca. The form will ask you to provide the following information:
- Your name
- Your name at the time of your arrest (Only fill this out if your name has changed, either through marriage or a legal name change. If your name has not changed you can write “same as above”)
- Your current address,
- Your date of birth,
- The charges against you (for example, “Assault” or “Fraud Under $5000)
- How your matter was resolved (for example, “I was granted an absolute discharge”), and
- The date of completion of your matter. The date of completion is the last day you appeared in court on the matter. You can get that information from your criminal defence lawyer or from the Information counter at the courthouse you attended.
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Depending on how the charge against you was resolved, there are different waiting periods which must be exhausted before you can submit an application to have your photographs and fingerprints destroyed.
- Charges Withdrawn → If the charges against you are withdrawn or your charges are withdrawn following your participation in the diversion program, you must wait six months before submitting an application to have your information destroyed.
- Peace Bond → If your charges are resolved by way of a peace bond, you must wait until the peace bond has expired, and then six months later, you may submit an application to have your information destroyed.
- Absolute Discharge → If you are granted an absolute discharge, you must wait one year from the date of the discharge before you can submit an application to have your information destroyed.
- Conditional Discharge → If you are granted a conditional discharge, you must wait three years from the end of the probationary period before you may submit an application to have your information destroyed. Thus, if you receive a conditional discharge on August 1, 2009 with two years of probation, you must wait three years from August 1, 2011, before you may apply to have your information destroyed.
Once the appropriate waiting period has ended, you must complete the form and submit it to the Criminal Records division of Toronto Police Services.
You may submit it electronically by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, you may submit it by regular mail to:
40 College Street,
Attn: Criminal Records.
Or, you may submit it by fax to 416-808-8202.
Receiving one of the resolutions listed above ensures that you may request to have your photographs and fingerprints destroyed by police services but does not ensure that your request will be granted. The police are at liberty to refuse a request based on the nature of the incident including the charge you were facing and the disposition you received. Moreover, if you have been fingerprinted and photographed more than once, Police Services will not approve your application.
Having your fingerprints and photographs destroyed can be a slow process because at any given time the Criminal Records office is dealing with an average 3000 requests. It can take up to 9 months for Police Services to review your application. Around six months from the day your application is reviewed you will be notified whether the police intend to destroy your information. If that is the case, they will notify you at that time that they have commenced the destruction process. About six months later, you will receive a notification confirming that your photographs and fingerprints have been destroyed. Some police forces invite the individual to attend the destruction of the records. However, ordinarily one cannot be present during the process to confirm that your information has been destroyed. However, it is police protocol to destroy this information and it can never be used against you in a court of law, to obtain a warrant, or in the investigation of a future crime.
At the criminal law offices of Kostman & Pyzer, Barristers, we will take care of all applications to have your photographs and fingerprints destroyed as part of our gross fee (also known as a “retainer”). We have extensive experience dealing with Toronto Police Services in matters such as these. This service allows you to rest assured that your application will be made at the appropriate juncture and that these records will not prejudice you in the future.