A recent news article highlights the fact that over 40 percent of all criminal charges in Ontario are stayed or withdrawn. This compared to only 9 percent in Quebec.
If you also include absolute or conditional discharge the numbers are even higher.
Many people believe that if their criminal charge is stayed or withdrawn then they are free from having a criminal record. However, in almost all cases the fingerprints remain in the system until a file destruction is requested. This is a real problem, because if you are doing a criminal background check for work or volunteer purposes then the employer can see that you have been in trouble with the police.
If you were convicted of a crime then you will need a pardon or record suspension to remove your criminal record and it can only be done after five or ten years depending on the offence. However, if your criminal charge was stayed or withdrawn then you can start the file destruction process immediately.
The article highlights the fact that the justice system is slow, inefficient and costly, considering that so many cases are finalized in stayed or withdrawn charges. Lengthy delays have resulted in stays of proceedings of even the most serious criminal charges like drug trafficking.
Furthermore, they say a large number of administration of justice charges – failure to appear for court appearances, breach of probation, unlawfully at large, and failure to comply with court orders – also contribute to the clogging of the courts.
Here is an article in the National Post “Canada’s criminal justice system needs urgent reform, report finds.”