The relevance and use of previous convictions in criminal proceedings
Produced in partnership with Will Glover and Angharad Hughes of 3 Temple Gardens

The following Corporate Crime practice note produced in partnership with Will Glover and Angharad Hughes of 3 Temple Gardens provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • The relevance and use of previous convictions in criminal proceedings
  • What is a spent conviction?
  • Rehabilitation periods for criminal offences
  • Rehabilitation periods for custodial sentences
  • Rehabilitation periods for cautions or conditional cautions
  • Rehabilitation periods for absolute or conditional discharges
  • Fixed penalty notices
  • Further convictions
  • Concurrent and consecutive sentences
  • Breach of court orders
  • More...

The relevance and use of previous convictions in criminal proceedings

This Practice Note considers spent convictions and rehabilitation periods under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA 1974). It also considers the impact of previous convictions on criminal investigations, evidence in criminal proceedings and sentencing among other matters.

What is a spent conviction?

If a conviction or caution has become spent, for most purposes, the offender is treated in law as having never committed an offence. This means, for example, people with spent convictions or cautions have the right under ROA 1974 not to volunteer them when applying for most jobs. This will not prevent them from appearing on a criminal records check by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS check, sometimes known as a CRB check), however, which some jobs will require. Certain convictions become spent after a specified period of time. The period of time will vary depending on the disposal or sentence imposed.

Rehabilitation periods for criminal offences

Rehabilitation periods for custodial sentences

For custodial sentences, the rehabilitation period begins with the date of the conviction in respect of which the sentence is imposed, and continues after the sentence is completed for a period of time (buffer period) determined by the total length of the sentence imposed by the court (not the time an offender has served in custody). For example, for adult offenders:

  1. detention during

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