Top 7 Things to Know About Criminal Records
If you live in the UK and you have a criminal record, it could affect your life in a number of ways. You may find it difficult or impossible to obtain certain types of employment and you could encounter problems when applying for visas to travel to certain countries. If you are not sure how a criminal conviction will affect your life in the future and you would like to find out more about the difficulties you could face, this article will answer those questions and more. Below, we discuss the top 7 things to know about criminal records in the UK and look at how you can anticipate and deal with the problems most commonly encountered by people who have been convicted of a criminal offence.
What You Need to Know About Criminal Records and Criminal Record Check Procedures
Whether you have just been convicted of a minor offence or you were convicted and served time in prison many years ago, the following 7 points should give you a clearer idea of how your criminal record could affect you in the future.
1. Your Further Education May Be Affected – If you are planning to apply to study at a university in the UK, you will quite possibly be asked to disclose details of any unspent convictions on your criminal record. Minor convictions such as motoring offences will probably not prevent you from being offered a place but if you have been convicted of a violent crime or a sexual offence, it will be much harder to find a university willing to take a chance on you. It should be noted that not all motoring offences will appear on a DBS check: fixed penalty offences such as speeding will not show up on a basic check. If, however, you have a drink driving conviction or were convicted of dangerous driving, these convictions will appear on a DBS check and may affect your chances of being accepted by a university.
2. Future Employment Opportunities May Be Limited – Unspent criminal convictions will appear on basic, standard and enhanced DBS checks, and could affect your chances of employment with a wide variety of employers. The first thing you need to know is whether your conviction is spent. Convictions that result in prison sentences of more than 4 years are never spent whereas those that result in a prison sentence of 6 months or less are spent 2 years after the sentence has been served. Prison sentences between 6 months and 4 years are spent from between 4 to 7 years after the end of the sentence, depending on its length. In short, the answer to the question, “How long does a criminal record last?”, will depend on the details of your sentence. In general, any type of conviction may bar you from working with children or vulnerable adults, especially if it resulted in your name being placed on one or both of the DBS barred lists.
So what jobs can you get with a criminal record? Any jobs that are covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) do not require you to declare spent convictions and it is therefore possible for you to apply for these jobs even if you have a criminal record.
3. You May Experience Difficulties Applying for Visas to Visit Foreign Countries – Certain countries, such as Australia and the USA, have strict rules governing the issuance of visas to foreign nationals with criminal convictions. If you were convicted of an offence that will appear on a criminal record check conducted by the immigration authorities of these countries, you may well have your visa application refused. The best advice to those with spent or unspent convictions who wish to travel to countries such as the USA is not to try to take advantage of any visa waiver programs as this could result in you being refused entry at your port of arrival.
4. You Must Declare Unspent Convictions When Buying Insurance Policies – When you apply for insurance policies, you must declare your unspent convictions. Failure to do so could invalidate any policies you purchase and result in future claims being rejected by the insurers. You can apply for a DBS check online if you want to see whether your convictions are spent.
5. You May be Disqualified From Standing for Parliament or Election to a Local Council – If you have ambitions to run for public office in England and Wales, you should be aware that unspent convictions appearing on a criminal record check could prevent you from doing so.
6. Adoption May be Much More Difficult – Depending on the nature of the offence or offences you have committed, you may find it difficult or impossible to adopt a child in the future.
7. You May Be Prevented from Doing Volunteer Work – Again, this will depend on the nature of your convictions and whether they are spent but you should always declare unspent convictions when volunteering and be prepared to have a DBS check performed.
In summary, a criminal record could have lasting effects on many areas of your life, including all those listed above. If you are interested in finding out more about whether your convictions will affect your future employment and travel opportunities or you would simply like to establish whether a conviction is now spent, please get in touch with us. We will be happy to help you apply for a DBS check and to answer any questions you may have.