When sentencing for criminal offences, courts have a discretion as to whether or not to record a conviction. When no conviction is recorded, or when a sufficient time period elapses after sentencing, a matter is normally considered ‘spent’. In the past, this has meant that any question about a person’s criminal history is taken not to refer to it and national police clearances won’t disclose it. In practice, this has allowed for a degree of privacy regarding offences that were viewed as minor or were extremely dated.
Recent changes in the legislation have introduced a raft of situations where spent convictions can be disclosed. Persons who have held a police clearance for many years have been surprised to see spent convictions appear on their renewed clearances, leading to embarrassment and difficulty with employment.
Where someone seeks to work with vulnerable people, or to engage in activities associated with a character test, it is possible to seek an order from a magistrate excluding a spent conviction from the ambit of the new provisions, helping them improve their employability.
These applications can usually be completed without ever having to attend court, but they can take up to time to be processed. Where a person is unsuccessful, they cannot apply again for two years, so it’s worth getting them right.
If you’re interested in learning more about expunging a spent conviction please call our team of experienced solicitors to make an appointment.
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