Understanding Canadian Criminal Law

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The Advocates Society Innocence Canada Criminal Lawyers Association Ontario Bar Association Toronto Lawyers Association Criminal Law specialist

Is there any way to destroy the fingerprints and photographs taken by the police?

Is there any way to destroy the fingerprints and photographs taken by the police?

Quite often, an arrest on a criminal charge can have significant and long lasting consequences for a person accused of a crime, long after the charge is dropped or the person is found not guilty of the crime.

Most people facing criminal charges are required to provide the police with photographs and fingerprints which can later be used to assist police in solving other criminal investigations.

Only those persons facing summary conviction charges (such as marijuana possession or soliciting a prostitute for example) will be excused from providing their prints and photos.

If the person charged is later acquitted of the crime or the charges are withdrawn or stayed by the Crown, a request can be made to the police to have the accused person’s photographs and fingerprints removed from the police database. In most instances, the police will comply with the request.

The timing of the destruction of the prints and photos will depend on the manner in which the charges were disposed of and the policy of the police force responsible for the charges.

If you are found guilty of a criminal offence, then your photographs and fingerprints will permanently remain on file with the police.

Most police departments will have a minimum waiting period before a person can apply to have their fingerprints and photographs removed from the police database. In most cases, it is a minimum of a five month waiting period before the police will process the destruction request.