Criminal Justice Information and Support

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Find the information and support you need

There are many reasons you may be interested in learning more about the criminal justice system in British Columbia. No matter what the reason, the JusticeBC website is designed to help you access the resources and services that are most important to you.

Criminal Justice in B.C.

British Columbia is working hard to ensure the right information and services are available for people who become involved with the criminal justice system in B.C. The quick links below may answer some of your questions. If you do not find what you are looking for below, we encourage you to explore this website further to learn more about criminal justice in B.C.

Jury Duty

A jury is a group of people selected to participate in a trial. In a criminal trial, the jury decides whether a person charged with committing a crime is guilty or not guilty. Jury members are called jurors. Jury duty is the service you provide to the community when you become a jury member.

This part of the website focuses on information about the jury in criminal trials. For information about the civil jury process, please visit the Jury Duty - Ministry of Justice website.

Juror Responsibilities

Jurors are randomly selected from the Elections BC list. As a Canadian citizen, your participation in jury selection and jury duty is a legal obligation. You do not need to know anything about the law to serve on a jury. The judge will explain the legal terms and the law.

When you act as a juror, you are playing a critical role in the criminal justice process. Your responsibility is to participate with other jurors in making a decision about whether someone charged with committing a crime is guilty or not guilty.  

Juror Qualifications

To serve as a juror in B.C., you must be:

  • at least 19 years old;
  • a Canadian citizen; and
  • a B.C. resident.

Jury Summons

As a first step in choosing a jury, the court will send you a “summons” to appear in court. A jury summons is a legal document that states you must appear at the courthouse at a specific date and time.

Unless you have been disqualified or exempted, you must attend jury selection. Failure to respond to the summons is an offence.

If you receive a criminal jury summons, you must send the completed juror certification form within 10 days after you receive the summons.

French-Speaking Jury Trials

For more information about French-language jury panels, see Procès Avec Jury Francophone.

More Information

For more information about jury duty, please visit: Juror.

Criminal Record Checks

A criminal record is information about a person’s contact or involvement with the criminal justice system, starting with the police. Some officials, such as police, Crown counsel and customs officials, have access to criminal records, without a criminal record check.

A criminal record check takes place when police receive a request for information about a person’s criminal history. Criminal record checks may be required for private purposes, such as employment, volunteer work or lending. A criminal record check is conducted only with your written consent. 

You can also request a criminal record check for yourself by contacting your local police. Criminal record checks are completed by your local municipal police or RCMP detachment. They must be completed by the police department in the area where you live.

Criminal Record

A criminal record is documentation of someone's contact or involvement with the criminal justice system, starting with the police through to sentencing and release from custody. Criminal records are kept in central computer systems that most police agencies across Canada have access to.

A criminal record is kept for anyone over 12 who the police allege have committed a crime. Sometimes criminal records for people between 12 to 17 when the crime took place are referred to as “police records.” For more information, please visit: Youth Records.

A criminal record includes all criminal convictions and may include additional information such as outstanding charges, agreements to follow conditions and carry out certain activities and information about release from custody with conditions.

Types of Criminal Record Checks

The amount of information provided in a criminal record check depends on the situation. For example, the criminal record check may include:

  • a full record check (personal information, all convictions and charges that did not lead to a conviction); or
  • personal information and only conviction history; or
  • it may only state whether or not a criminal record exists.

Mandatory Criminal Records Checks

The Criminal Records Review Act says a criminal record check is mandatory for people working with children and vulnerable adults or who have unsupervised access to children or vulnerable adults. This includes doctors, nurses, hospital employees, dentists, teachers, non-teaching staff in schools (such as janitors and administrative support), registered students in a post-secondary program who will work with children or vulnerable adults, early childcare educators, day care employees, employees in long-term care facilities and other facilities that provide health services to vulnerable adults. This requirement helps protect children and vulnerable adults from harm.

Youth Records

The Youth Criminal Justice Act protects youth from having their records disclosed to the general public. By protecting youth records, the act prevents youth from being identified within the community and the media. For more information, please visit Youth Records.

More Information

For more information about criminal records and criminal record checks, please visit:

Court Services

Court support and information is available to people who come into contact with the criminal justice system in B.C. Here are some free and online resources that can help you through the criminal justice system.

Your Day in Court

Some helpful information to consider when going to court:

  • Before you go to court, sit in on a court hearing to listen and observe what happens inside a courtroom. Most court hearings are open to the public.
  • Wear clothes that are clean, neat and comfortable when you go to court.
  • The majority of courtrooms post signs inside the courtroom listing the rules. Typical rules include no food or drinks, hats, chewing gum and talking.
  • The courtroom is not an ideal place for young children. Most courthouses have no designated place or play area for children, so it will be important for you to consider child care options in advance of your court date.

Court Support for Victims

If you are a victim of crime, there are resources available to support you while you are in court:

  • Victim Service Workers - can help you understand what is happening during the court proceedings and can provide you with support throughout the court process.
  • Testimonial Accommodation - are methods used to support you if you are uncomfortable giving testimony in court in the presence of the person charged with committing a crime.

To learn more, please visit Court Support - Victim.

Court Services Online (CSO)

Court Services Online (CSO) allows you to access court file information online free of charge. You can find public access terminals at many courthouses. Please visit the CSO website.

B.C. Courthouse Locations

To find the location of a courthouse, please visit the Ministry of Justice website. For a map of B.C. courts, please visit the Provincial Court of B.C. website.

Support for Aboriginal People

Additional support for Aboriginal people who come into contact with the criminal justice system is available through the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of B.C. (NCCABC). To learn more, please visit the NCCABC website.

More Information

For more information about the courts and services that are available to you, please visit the following sections on this website:

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