Rehabilitation of Offenders / Past Convicitons ( 4.32.3.L1 )
Updated: November 2017
Words you may need to know
Conviction - if you have been found guilty of an offence, you were convicted of that offence
Judiciary - the justice system
Disclosure - sharing or giving information
Defendant - the person who has been charged with an offence
Admissible - allowed in, made known
This is a complicated subject and legal advice should be taken. Some general guidance is given below. Advice and contact details scan be found on the Probation and States of Jersey Police websites:
Does someone have to give information about past convictions?
Someone who has a past conviction for a criminal offence may want to know if they have to give information about the conviction (disclose the conviction) and if so, under what circumstances.
Common situations where someone may be asked to declare a conviction include:-
- when taking out an insurance policy
- when applying for a job
- when applying for a visa to go overseas
The Rehabilitation of Offenders (Jersey) Law, 2001 is the legislation that governs the declaration of criminal convictions. The Law came into force on 1 December 2002.
If a past conviction is one that does not normally have to be declared under the rules of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Law, if it is referred to as a ‘spent conviction’.
So a person with a spent conviction does not normally have to mention it e.g. when applying for a job unless they are specifically asked.
If someone is required by a potential employer to make a disclosure of any convictions they should ask the employer to make a search through Disclosure Scotland.
The company will issue a certificate appropriate to the job. It is also possible to obtain a basic disclosure online.
However, there are some exceptions to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Law, which means that there are situations where someone is expected to declare their convictions even if they are spent under the normal rules.
There are also situations in which certain other people, for example, the police, may disclose information about someone’s past convictions, even if they are spent under the normal rules.
Parish Hall cautions and fines
Written or verbal cautions and Parish Hall fines are not criminal convictions and therefore are not covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Law. For example, if someone is asked to declare previous convictions, they need not declare a caution. However, if they are asked a question like "Have you ever been in trouble with the police?" or "Have you a criminal record?" they should declare a caution.
Any penalties imposed at a Parish Hall enquiry are known as a sanction and will appear as such on a person's Police Record. Anyone who has been cautioned and wants to know whether the record has been retained could ask at the police station for details of any police record held either locally or centrally. A search form will need to be completed.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Law
There are certain convictions which can never become spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Law. A person who has such a conviction always has to declare it if they are asked about their past convictions.
An example is a person who was given a prison sentence of more than two and a half years for a particular conviction. It is the length of the original sentence that counts, not how long the person actually spends in prison. For example, if the sentence was for five years, and the person was given early release after two years, the conviction could never be spent and would always have to be declared.
Convictions which someone does not have to declare
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Law states that spent convictions do not normally have to be declared. A conviction becomes spent and does not have to be declared after a fixed period. The fixed period is known as a ‘rehabilitation period’ and runs from the date when the person was convicted by the court.
The length of the rehabilitation period depends on the sentence that was given to the person. If the person is convicted of another offence during the rehabilitation period see below.
Rehabilitation periods for particular sentences
See: https://www.jerseylaw.je/laws/revised/Pages/08.840.aspx Article 3
When working out the rehabilitation period the person’s age at the date they were convicted will be taken (counted).
If someone is convicted of a driving offence
If someone has been convicted of a driving offence, the rehabilitation period will depend on the sentence given.
If someone is fined and disqualified from driving the rehabilitation period of the fine applies. For example, if someone is fined and disqualified from driving for three years, the rehabilitation period will be five years because the rehabilitation period for a fine is five years.
If someone is fined and disqualified from driving for seven years, the rehabilitation period is also five years.
If someone is convicted again during the rehabilitation period
Someone may offend and be sentenced again during the rehabilitation period. Neither conviction will become spent until the rehabilitation periods for both offences are over. This means that both convictions have to be declared until the longer of the two rehabilitation periods is over.
There is no extension if the second sentence is a disqualification or similar prohibition.
Someone breaches a binding over order or probation order
If someone breaches a binding over order or probation order they are then likely to be brought back to court and re sentenced. The person is not rehabilitated in respect of the first conviction until the rehabilitation period for the new sentence has been completed.
Exceptions to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Law
Exceptions to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Law are set out in the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Exceptions)(Jersey) Regulations 2002.
Even though under the normal rules when convictions may have become spent, there are some circumstances in which someone may need to disclose, if asked, their convictions (and other details on their police record).
Disclosure during criminal proceedings
If someone has to appear in Court as a defendant, evidence of spent convictions is not admissible and questions concerning such matters cannot be asked during the proceedings. If asked the person need not answer them at all or need not be answered truthfully. There are however exceptions.
Courts hearing criminal cases will still have full criminal records before them for the purpose of deciding what sentence to pass.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Law does not affect the admission of evidence of previous offenders and convictions in proceedings relating to minors.
If someone who is a defendant or witness gives their consent for previous convictions to be made known, that is allowed.
Revealing previous offences or convictions should only happen when the Court is satisfied that justice cannot be done unless evidence of spent convictions is admitted.
Unauthorised disclosure of a spent conviction
The Law makes it an offence for anyone who has access to official records to disclose information, unless it is in the course of their official duties.
A person guilty of an offence is liable to a fine not exceeding Level 3 on the standard scale (currently £2,000).
Any person who obtains any information on convictions from any official record by means of fraud, dishonesty or bribe is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding Level 4 on the standard scale or both (currently £5,000).