Chief judge reviews online provincial court records

Database of charges, convictions, peace bonds used for criminal record checks, but users may not be aware of later acquittal

B.C. Provincial Court Chief Judge Thomas Crabtree

B.C. is the only province where charges and convictions in provincial court are posted on a public database as well as being available to courthouse visitors.

One problem is that the information has been used by employers or landlords for criminal record checks that may find a charge but not the later acquittal. Another is posting the imposition of a peace bond, which can leave the false impression that someone has been convicted of an offence.

Thomas Crabtree, chief judge of the B.C. Provincial Court, is reviewing the practice of posting court records online, and is seeking public input until Sept. 18.

Court Services Online has been available since 2008, allowing anyone to search by name or case number to find information on charges, court appearances and sentences.

The online information is blocked if the accused is acquitted, charges are withdrawn, a publication ban is ordered or when a pardon is later granted to seal the record of a conviction. Absolute discharge conviction records are removed from the public database after a year, and conditional discharges after three years. A stay of proceedings means the online case file is blocked after a year, although records for all cases remain at court registries for access in person.

In a consultation memo on the issue, Crabtree notes that B.C.’s Court Services Online help desk received frequent requests to use the service as a criminal record check.

The memo says that when information on acquittals was still available, the service received “a significant number” of complaints of negative effects from public access to charges that did not lead to conviction. Some people said they only realized the information was public when they were sent a link by co-workers or employers.

The memo offers several options for dealing with peace bonds, which are ordered to restrict activities of parties in a dispute and are currently left online indefinitely.

Submissions from the public can be made by email to info@provincialcourt.bc.ca or by mail to:

Office of the Chief Judge, Provincial Court of B.C., 337-800 Hornby Street, Vancouver B.C. V6Z 2C5.

 

Just Posted

UPDATE: Tsunami warning cancelled for coastal British Columbia

Warning issued following 7.9 earthquake off Kodiak, AK

Coordinated search finds missing Kelowna boy

All available police resources were called in to help find a missing boy Monday afternoon

Kelowna students leave for downhill challenge

A group of students from UBCO is ready for annual concrete toboggan race

Kelowna’s Serwa named to Olympic team

Kelsey Serwa is one of eight Canadian ski cross athletes headed to PyeongChang

Vernon Search & Rescue find lost snowmobiler

Male, 19, went missing in Hunter’s Range area near Enderby

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

VIDEO: Fuel truck and train collide in B.C. causing massive fire

More emergency crews are still arriving on scene of a massive fire at the Port Coquitlam rail yard.

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Angels at The Mule

Penticton nightclub introduces angel shots for safety

Dryer explosion at Teck Elkview Operations

Locals report hearing loud bang

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Most Read