UK: When is a conviction spent?

August 16, 2020

Disclaimer: This page is provided only as a source for information. It is not legal advice. The information below is correct as at 16.08.2020 and is taken from https://www.gov.uk/guidance/rehabilitation-periods. You should use the link to check the page and ensure that the information is current and up to date. What follows is not legal advice but an explanation of some of the information contained on the government webpage that can be accessed using the above link.

What is a ‘spent’ conviction?

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, some convictions will become ‘spent’ after a certain amount of time has passed. This means that you are not required to disclose the conviction when, for example, applying for most jobs.

However if you are applying for a job in certain fields of work then a conviction must always be disclosed. For more information about DBS checks, you can start with this link (other links will be on the page to guide you to further information): https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dbs-list-of-offences-that-will-never-be-filtered-from-a-criminal-record-check and when you need to tell people about your criminal record if you have one, use this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/telling-people-about-your-criminal-record


Prison sentences/suspended sentences of imprisonment

If you receive a prison sentence of 4 years or more then whether you were over 18 at the time when you were sentenced or 17 or under at the time of sentence, the conviction is NEVER ‘spent’.

If you receive a prison sentence of more than 2 and a half years (30 months) and up to 4 years and you were over 18 at the time when you were sentenced, then the conviction is ‘spent’ after 7 years. If you were 17 or under at the time of sentence, the conviction is ‘spent’ after 3 and a half years.

If you receive a prison sentence of more than 6 months and up to 2 and a half years (30 months) and you were over 18 at the time when you were sentenced, then the conviction is ‘spent’ after 4 years. If you were 17 or under at the time of sentence, the conviction is ‘spent’ after 24 months/2 years.

If you receive a prison sentence of 6 months or less, and you were over 18 at the time when you were sentenced, then the conviction is ‘spent’ after 2 years. If you were 17 or under at the time of sentence, the conviction is ‘spent’ after 18 months.

If your prison sentence was suspended, the same time periods apply. It always applies to sentences to detention in a young offender institution and sentences to youth custody.


Community Orders, Youth Rehabilitation Orders, Fines,

If you receive a community order, then the conviction is ‘spent’ 1 year after the last day when you were subject to the order. So if the last day of your order was 31 March 2020, the order is spent from 1 April 2021. If you receive a youth rehabilitation order, the order is spent 6 months after the last day when you were subject to the order.

If you receive a fine, and you were over 18 at the time when you were sentenced, then the conviction is ‘spent’ 1 year after the date that you were sentenced. If you were 17 or under at the time you were given the fine, the conviction is ‘spent’ 6 months after the date that you were sentenced.

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