How a Conviction becomes Spent

The way in which a conviction can become ‘spent’ under the ROA will depend upon the sentence received for the offence, and the rehabilitation period that applies to that offence sentence. The principles apply to convictions in a criminal court, findings in a juvenile court, certain offences in service disciplinary proceedings and hospital orders under the Mental Health Act 1983.

The time required before the conviction is spent – the rehabilitation period – will be different depending upon the nature and length of the sentence, be it a term of imprisonment, a fine, a surcharge order, probation, or an absolute or conditional discharge. Relevant rehabilitation periods are set out below.

Unless otherwise stated, the rehabilitation period runs from the date of the conviction and will generally depend upon compliance with the sentence.

Relevant Rehabilitation Periods

  • Sentence of imprisonment of more than two and a half years - Never
  • Sentence of imprisonment of more than six months but no more than two and a half years - 10 years
  • Youth custody for more than six months but no more than two and a half years - 10 years*
  • Corrective training for more than six months but no more than two and a half years - 10 years*
  • Dismissal with disgrace from Her Majesty's service - 10 years*
  • A sentence of Borstal training - 7 years
  • Prison for six months or less - 7 years*
  • Dismissal from Her Majesty's service - 7 years*
  • Sentence of imprisonment or detention in YOI or youth custody for six months or less - 7 years*
  • Detention in respect of conviction in service disciplinary proceedings - 5 years*
  • (Most) fines - 5 years*
  • Sentence of young offender detention for over six months but not more than two and a half years - 5 years
  • Probation order or community order (person 18 or older) - 5 years
  • Probation order or community order (person under 18) - Either 2 ½ years from conviction, or until the order ceases to have effect – whichever is the longer
  • Hospital order under Mental Health Act 1983 - Either 5 years, or 2 years after order ceases to have effect, whichever is the longer
  • Sentence of young offender detention fo not more than six months - 3 years
  • Conditional discharge, binding over, care order, supervision order, reception order - Either 1 year after making of order, or 1 year after the order ends, whichever is the longer
  • Absolute discharge - 6 months
  • Disqualification - The period of disqualification
  • Cautions, Warnings and Reprimands - Spent as soon as they are issued
  • Conditional cautions - Spent as soon as conditions end.
*Note: These periods are reduced by half if the offender was under eighteen at the date of conviction.



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