What will happen to my fingerprints and photos taken by police after I was arrested?

For most offences, after you are charged you will be required to be photographed and fingerprinted by the police. The police are allowed to share the prints or photos with any other officer or anyone engaged with “the execution of justice”.


If your criminal charge is withdrawn or stayed, or if you go to trial and are found not guilty, your photographs and fingerprints won’t necessarily be destroyed. Each police force has its own policies and procedures, and your legal counsel can tell you what happens in your local jurisdiction. For example, the London Police Service will only destroy fingerprints and photographs on request, only if it did not result in a conviction, only after filling out a form, and it may take up to a year. Even then, the request is forwarded to the RCMP who may or may not approve the request.


Other occurrence reports generated as a result of a charge will not be destroyed, even if the photographs and fingerprints are. Hard copies of officers’ notes, occurrence reports or records of arrest will remain in possession of the police force and can be used in subsequent proceedings.


If you have any questions about the above or want help having your photographs or fingerprints destroyed, please give us a call.


Ron Ellis is a criminal defence lawyer based in London, Ontario and practices criminal defence law all over Southwestern Ontario, including Grand Bend, Sarnia, Woodstock and Kitchener.

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