Q89: What does a spent conviction mean?
A spent conviction is a conviction, which under the terms of Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 can be effectively ignored after a specified amount of time. The amount of time for rehabilitation depends on the sentence imposed, not on the offence. This act aims to rehabilitate offenders by not making their past mistakes affect the rest of their lives if they have been on the right side of the law for some time. This means that a person who has spent convictions does not have to disclose the conviction to prospective employers, and employers cannot refuse to employ someone on the basis of spent convictions.
You have to tell employers about all your convictions if you want to work with children or vulnerable adults or if you are applying for certain professions such as law, health care, pharmacy, senior management posts within certain sectors, and employment where matters of national security are involved.
If you have received a prison sentence of more than four years your convictions will never become spent.
The more serious the conviction the longer the period of rehabilitation.
If you were 17 or under when found guilty the rehabilitation period is usually half the time it would be if you were 18 or over. For example if the sentence imposed was a community service order then for the younger person the period is two and a half years whilst for the person 18 or over it is five years.