What Happens If You Have A Criminal Record?
No one sets out to have a criminal record. Nonetheless, either by action or neglect, millions of people wind up with one. At the end of legal proceedings (as well as time served, if any), most people emerge with one question on their mind: “What happens now?” The answer is, “It depends”. A number of factors determine what happens if you have a criminal record including:
- What type of crime you were convicted of – Those convicted of violent or sex-related offences are going to have a difficult time finding honest employment, housing and other basics of life moving forward. That’s because it is likely their conviction will never be ‘spent’ and will appear on DBS checks for the rest of their life. Keep in mind you may be able to start some jobs without a DBS check. But if one is conducted later and an unspent conviction is revealed, you may lose that position.
- Whether or not the conviction has been spent – As we just mentioned, some convictions never become spent in the eyes of the justice system. That includes many types of violent crime, sex crimes, terrorism and crimes against children. If the offense is not eligible to be spent, the individual will need to disclose it when appropriate for the rest of their life. If the individual was convicted of a lesser crime and spent less than 30 months in prison, that conviction can be spent 11 years after the conviction. For people who were minors when the crime was committed, it can be spent once 5.5 years have passed since the conviction.
Can a Criminal Record Be Expunged?
Unlike in the United States, there is currently no process in place in the UK for having a criminal conviction expunged. Former PM David Cameron recommended studying the possibility of allowing for the expunging of certain criminal offenses. But no formal action has yet been taken on the matter.
Ways a Criminal Record Can Affect a Person’s Daily Life
If you are a person with an unspent conviction on your record here are some of the ways that conviction may affect your personal life on a day to day basis.
- Employment – If you are wondering how to get a job with a criminal record, the truth is it’s not likely to be easy. Especially if you have an unspent criminal conviction. This is especially true if the position involves working with children or vulnerable adults. The fact is, an unspent conviction will likely make it more difficult to obtain any positions that require DBS checks. It is also likely to make it difficult to do many types of volunteer work.
- Education – Unspent convictions are likely to make acceptance to institutions of higher learning more difficult. Particularly for areas of study – such as nursing, childminding or teaching – that would eventually bring a person into close contact with children or vulnerable adults. There are cases where the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act would provide some legal cover. But it would likely depend on the nature of your crime and the type of course you wish to take.
- Insurance – It’s no secret that many insurance companies take a dim view of those with unspent convictions. They regularly charge them higher premiums than they do other customers, even if they have never submitted an insurance claim. Also, those seeking homeowners insurance will need to declare any unspent convictions they have. If they don’t, any claim they submit may be invalidated if the insurance company discovers the unspent conviction.
- Jury Service – If you have ever spent more than five years in prison for a single offense, you are barred for life from jury service. If you have served less than five years in prison, or had a suspended sentence or a community order within the past 10 years, you are also disqualified. Certain low-level offenses that did not result in a sentence of any kind may not automatically disqualify one from jury service.
- Public Service – If you have ever been convicted of an offense that carries a prison sentence, you are forbidden from ever running for high-level positions with the police. That is true even if the prison sentence was suspended. If you are of a mind to run for a local council, be advised that you may not if you have three months or more in prison in the five years leading up to polling day. Interestingly, having a conviction does not necessarily disqualify one from running for parliament.
Having a criminal record will make your daily life more difficult. Of that there is little doubt. How difficult will depend largely on the type of conviction, whether it is spent or unspent, and the type of work or other activities you wish to perform. If you wish to check a criminal record online The Check People can help.