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I Have A Criminal Record From A Mistake I Made As A Youth. How Will This Affect Me In The Future?

We all make mistakes in our younger years and unfortunately some of these can be costly and result in us having a criminal record. The anxiety of having a criminal record and how it might affect a person’s prospects with employers or even plans to travel abroad can be an awful burden to carry. Especially when that person has done everything to make amends for their past indiscretion and has worked hard to pursue a particular career without ever being involved with the police or courts again as an adult.

Fortunately, having a criminal record as a result of making a mistake as a youth does not mean that it will automatically be disclosed to future employers. In fact there are very strict rules that govern the disclosure of such sensitive information and in the majority of cases, after a certain time has passed, it will not be accessible and you most likely will not have to disclose it at all to prospective employers. Here is some important information you should know if you have a criminal record as a youth:

What is a criminal record?

A criminal record is the common name given for the information that the police hold about a person on the Police National Computer (PNC). The most common types of information contained on a PNC are the outcomes (known as “disposals”) resulting from a person being charged with a criminal offence.

In terms of youths the most common disposals are a warning or “reprimand” where the police have agreed not to prosecute in favour of simply recording the offence against the person (similar to an adult caution), or a conviction where the youth has appeared before a court and has been deemed guilty of an offence.

Will I have a criminal record forever?

Information held on a PNC will generally remain there forever. Some information (including reprimands or cautions) can be removed upon application however convictions will never be removed.

The good news is that information held on the PNC will not always have to be disclosed to prospective employers. In fact in the majority of cases, after a certain time has elapsed and depending on the outcome, you will not have to tell future employers about your criminal record at all, nor will they be able to ask you about it on application forms or in job interviews.

After a certain amount of time has passed an offence is considered “spent” and you no longer have a duty to disclose it. A reprimand for an offence is spent immediately upon being recorded. The date when a conviction is spent depends on the type of offence and the sentence that was imposed.

In most circumstances, the longest it will take for a youth conviction to be spent will be where it has resulted in a significant custodial sentence being imposed. The worst case scenario would be that it is spent after 3 ½ years including the length of the sentence. However, it should be noted that convictions resulting in custodial sentences of over 4 years will never be spent.

How easily can employers access my criminal record?

Employers and other registered bodies can make applications to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for a person’s criminal record certificate. There are three types of certificate that can be applied for. In terms of youths, a Basic certificate will disclose all unspent convictions (not reprimands); a Standard certificate will disclose all convictions spent or unspent and reprimands; and an Enhanced certificate will disclose all convictions spent or unspent and reprimands that are not subject to “filtering”.

Filtering is the term used to describe the process that identifies which criminal records will be disclosed on a criminal record certificate. Once filtered certain offences will not be disclosed on DBS certificates. These are known as “protected” offences.

In terms of youths, most offences, unless “specified”, will be protected and will not be disclosed on any DBS certificate after a certain period of time. In most circumstances offences will be filtered after 5 ½ years. However, specified offences will always be disclosed on DBS certificates which will usually be those of a serious violent or sexual nature, or ones that are relevant for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.

Will my criminal record as a youth affect me if I want to travel abroad?

Visa free travel is generally not a problem but with immigration and visa applications it does very much depend on the individual country. The immigration authorities of certain countries will require evidence of an individual’s criminal history in the UK and may indeed refuse entry.

The ACRO Criminal Records office will issue a document known as a “police certificate” for immigration and visa purposes upon application. The type of reprimands or convictions disclosed on the certificate will depend on the case disposal, age of the individual and the date of the last offence on their PNC.

For a reprimand the information will remain on the ACRO police certificate for 5 to 10 years depending on the offence. For a youth conviction the information will remain on the police certificate for 10 years to potentially life depending on the gravity of the offence and the sentence imposed.

If you require assistance regarding the deletion of your criminal records, please do not hesitate to contact our team of expert criminal defence solicitors dealing with this complex area now on 0330 822 3451 or request a call back. 

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