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New convictions and other principles affecting the rehabilitation period

If you are convicted during the rehabilitation period of an offence which can only be tried by a Magistrates’ Court, the new sentence will carry its own rehabilitation period and will not affect the earlier one. Otherwise, if you are convicted during the rehabilitation period of any other offence covered by the ROA, then generally and if the second offence has a longer rehabilitation period, the earlier conviction will become spent only when the later one becomes spent. If the second offence has a shorter rehabilitation period, then the later conviction will become spent only when the earlier one becomes spent. If during a rehabilitation period a person is given a sentence which can never become spent, this also prevents the earlier unspent conviction from ever becoming spent.

It is important to note that it is the length of the sentence imposed by the court which is relevant and not, for example, the length of time actually served in prison. A sentence counts in the same way, whether you are actually sent to prison or the sentence is suspended.

Where a person is convicted in the same proceedings of more than one offence, and the sentences imposed for those offences are either ordered to be served consecutively (i.e. one after the other) or wholly or partly concurrently (i.e. at the same time), then those sentences will be added together and treated as a single term, giving rise to one rehabilitation period. So, for example, if a person is convicted of two offences in the same proceedings – one offence for which he is sentenced to three months in prison, and a second offence for which he is sentenced to four months in prison – then whether or not those sentences are to run concurrently or consecutively, both convictions will be added together and counted as a sentence for 7 months imprisonment, which becomes spent only after 10 years.

By contrast, where a person is convicted of a single offence but more than one sentence is imposed in respect of it (whether in the same proceedings or not), then there will be one single rehabilitation period, to be calculated by reference to the more serious of the sentences imposed. For example, if a person is ordered both to serve a prison sentence of 5 months and to pay a fine in respect of the same conviction, then only the sentence of imprisonment, which has the longer rehabilitation period, will be counted, and so it will be 7 years before the conviction is spent.

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