Spent convictions

Introduction

If you have completed your sentence following a criminal conviction you should be reintegrated into society. However, in certain situations you may need to disclose your criminal convictions and this can have a negative effect on your employment prospects and on other aspects of your life. For example, if you have a criminal conviction you may be unable to:

  • Enter certain professions such as law or medicine
  • Get a licence such as PSV (public service vehicle) licence, driver’s licence or a firearms licence
  • Get insurance cover

The consequences may be even more serious if you do not disclose the conviction and it comes to light at a later date.

However, there are some situations where certain offences can be removed from the record, or may not have to be disclosed after a period of time. For example, if you commit an offence as a child, the offence can be automatically removed from the record once certain conditions are met. You can find more information on this in our document on children and the criminal justice system. And under the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016, a range of minor offences become spent after 7 years. This means that an adult convicted of an offence covered by the Act does not have to disclose the conviction after 7 years, except in certain circumstances.

Spent conviction offences

The following convictions become spent after 7 years:

  • All convictions in the District Court for motoring offences except for convictions for dangerous driving which are limited to a single conviction
  • All convictions in the District Court for minor public order offences
  • A single conviction (other than a motoring or public order offence) in the District Court which resulted in a term of prison term of 12 months or less (or a fine)

These convictions become spent 7 years from the date the sentence became operative, as long as you have complied with the sentence or order imposed.

The Act does not apply to any conviction for a sexual offence or an offence which was tried in the Central Criminal Court. These offences cannot become spent convictions.

Disclosing a spent conviction

In general, you do not have to disclose a spent conviction when supplying information on past convictions. However, you may have to disclose a spent conviction in court proceedings in the circumstances set out in Section 7 of the Act.

You must also disclose spent convictions in the following situations:

  • In a Garda interview following your arrest in connection with the investigation of an offence
  • When applying to enter, be or remain in the State
  • When applying for Irish citizenship
  • In an application or during an investigation under Part 3 of the Central Bank Reform Act 2010

If you have been convicted of fraud, deceit or dishonesty when making a claim under a policy of insurance or a policy of assurance, you have to disclose that conviction on any insurance or assurance proposal or form.

Disclosure is required if you are applying for certain types of licence. These licences include public service vehicle, private security, taxi and firearms licences.

Employment

In general, you do not have to disclose a spent conviction when you are looking for employment. However, you have to disclose any spent convictions if you are applying to work for certain bodies, such as, the Garda Síochána, the Courts Service and some government departments. The list of bodies that you must disclose spent convictions to is given in Schedule 2 of the Act.

The non-disclosure regime under the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 does not apply to employment relating to children or vulnerable adults. However, applicants for these roles must be Garda vetted and Garda vetting has its own non-disclosure regime.

Disclosure in other states

The Irish spent convictions legislation cannot be used if you are required to disclose information about your criminal convictions to another state, for example, the USA or Australia. You are subject to that country’s laws and may have to disclose such convictions.

Accessing criminal records held by the Gardaí

Data protection laws give you the right to access personal information about you that is held by the Garda Síochána. If you request a copy of your criminal record from the Garda Síochána, the record will be provided in 2 parts, with the spent convictions provided separately from the other convictions (if any). This means that you will be able to provide a clean record if your convictions are spent.

Page edited: 6 August 2019