Fingerprint Destruction

Whenever a person is charged with a criminal offence, the police have the right, under the Identification of Criminals Act, to obtain from the accused person their photograph and their fingerprints. While it is mandatory to provide a photo and fingerprints upon demand (in fact, you can be charged with failing to provide prints if you do not do so), it is available to any accused person to apply to have the fingerprints and photographs destroyed from the police records if the charges are withdrawn or if the accused person is acquitted.




The process for fingerprint destruction involves and application to the police service which originally seized them. The application can be brought 1 year after the completion of the charges in question. For certain types of offences, such as sexual assault and domestic assault, the police have taken the position that they will not destroy the prints because of the nature of the offence. In such a case, it is still possible to get the prints destroyed. It can involve a further application showing that the accused person's future or present employment opportunities may be affected by the existence of the prints in the system. If this is not successful, a motion brought before the Court alleging a breach of the individuals Charter rights in maintaining records based on the nature of the charge despite a withdrawal or acquittal on the charges.


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