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The online information is blocked if the accused is acquitted, charges are withdrawn, a publication ban is ordered or when a pardon is later granted to seal the record of a conviction.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

VIDEO: Santa visits Tofino

The event included a hearty breakfast, highland dancing and a Purple Dragon demonstration.

Strong winds expected to hit north, west Vancouver Island: Environment Canada

Environment Canada said southeast winds will reach speeds of 70 to 90 kilometres per hour

It’s the last day to vote in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots must now be dropped off in person to meet the deadline of 4:30 p.m.

Property assessments to rise again on Vancouver Island

Some areas could see their assessments spike as much as 20 per cent

Wet snow, rain expected on Vancouver Island this weekend

Environment Canada issued a special weather statement on Dec. 7

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Military closes book on oft-criticized support unit for ill, injured troops

The transition unit will provide support and services to military members struggling with physical and mental injuries so they can return to work.

Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson named NHL’s first star of the week

Canucks centre scored two goals and six assists in three games

Protester says Canada doing U.S. ‘dirty work’ outside Huawei exec’s bail hearing

The U.S. wants to extradite Meng to face fraud allegations after Canada arrested the high-profile technology executive.

Port Alberni’s John Jack joins First Nations LNG Alliance

Jack represents Huu-ay-aht First Nations’ Kwispaa LNG project

Union says arrows and gasoline tossed at striking Comox Valley assisted living workers

BCGEU president Stephanie Smith says arrows and gasoline were thrown at the picketers early in the week

Break-in at home of detained Chinese Huawei executive

Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver on America’s request

Natural gas rates will go up in B.C. on Jan. 1

Regions could pay up to $68 more

Most Read