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The online information is blocked if the accused is acquitted, charges are withdrawn, a publication ban is ordered or when a pardon is later granted to seal the record of a conviction.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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ferry Island Campground in Terrace now open to out of province visitors

Decision based on recommendations from the provincial government

Infinite Ice’s holistic hockey program returning to Terrace in August

COVID-19 precautions in place for on-ice training, meditation, yoga and nutrition classes

Ice coming to the Terrace Sportsplex in August

Second sheet planned for October, arena closed to the public for the time being

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Four air ambulance flights out of Terrace delayed or cancelled

Pandemic precautions caused nighttime closure of service station providing weather data to pilots

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Most Read