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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 12176
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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I'm after advice/clarification on the Rehabilitation of Offenders

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I'm after advice/clarification on the Rehabilitation of Offenders act and "spent" convictions. Are you able to help with that?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
To clarify:
I have two convictions for Indecent Assault (on Females aged 18/over) from 1997. I was convicted by 10-2 majority. Probation pre-sentencing recommended a non-custodial sentence, adding the actual actions were not more than he had done himself at University. I received a 12 month and 9 month custodial. I served 1/2. I was declared ineligible for SOTP inside (I think this was because one of the "victims" admitted in court that she had in fact wanted to kiss me, and did so... after just minutes of an assault for which I had been convicted... and this would be tricky in group therapy). I'll not go deeper on the allegations/convictions as that is not actually my question.
I'll add at this point that the Judge ordered me to sign the SOR upon release for a period of 10 years. On releases I attended the local police station and did the forms, only to receive a letter stating that I was not required to sign the SOR. This was from the Chief Constable (if memory serves). I therefore did not sign for 10 years, and there was no problems.I now live in South Africa. 2 years ago I was granted Permanent Residency here and was required to get a Police Clearance Certificate. I was surprised to see upon receipt of the certificate that my convictions were still listed. I contacted the issuing office and asked why they were not "Spent" as over 10 years had lapsed. I was told that due to a change in legisation, and because my offences "were so serious" that they would only be "spent" after 100 years (he may have said 99 years).
As I had declared my record to the South African authorities this did not impact there accepting my Permanent Residence application.I wish to check, though, that this is right? From what I can see online, my convictions should now be "Spent". My sentences were both under 3 years (and my total sentence was only 21 months). I received the lightest sentence available (so I was told) and the Judge expressed concerns over the convictions. Probation recommended a non-custodial and Essex Police didn't want me crowding their register...I'd really like it if my home government would stop "queering my pitch" every time I have to fill in official forms! I plead 'Not Guilty' and stand by that. I was convicted of walking into a girls bedroom at night drunk (who then snogged me) and on another ocassion apparently getting into bed with another. How can this be "so serious" that I have to have this record 'active" for 100 years?!?! Surely there's something I can do?
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act says that a person doesn't have to disclose a spent conviction, usually when applying for a job. However the Act doesn't apply to immigration and nationality matters. Those are a matter for the particular country concerned and the information they ask the UK authorities for. If they ask "Does Mr X have a criminal record in the UK?", then the UK will check that and reply accordingly. A criminal record is never totally expunged as you have been told and the Act is not binding on the state. It simply gives the convicted person the right to keep his record to himself after a particular period of time, as I say usually in relation to employment. I hope that clarifies the position. Please leave a positive rating so that I am credited for my time.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
OK, but within the UK, is it right that "all" indecent assault convictions remain unspent for 99/100 years? Or can I appeal/protest to have the original 10 years?
Am I correct in saying then that in terms of requests from foreign governments, the UK will always expose my convictions?
What you were told was wrong. The convictions are spent. But that is different from them remaining on record as I alluded to above.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. But shouldn't the certificate show them as "Spent"? I've seen/read that somewhere I am sure. Particularly with Commonwealth countries the status of them being "Spent" is sometimes important when I am being assessed for a Visa...
There's no reason why the certificate should say this and as far as I know they don't. Whether a conviction is spent is a matter of law under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. That Act only applies in the UK. It doesn't wipe your record. Generally, it simply says you personally don't have to disclose certain convictions on certain job applications. The data taken by the State to provide to another State as part of an immigration request deals with whether someone has a criminal record, not whether the conviction is spent under UK law.