The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 often becomes relevant when someone applies for a job or is asked to complete a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) form leading to a CRB check.
The 1974 Act enables criminal convictions to be spent or ignored after a rehabilitation period lapses. The relevant period of time is stipulated in the Act.
The length of rehabilitation period is dependant on the sentence imposed by the Court rather than the type of offence committed. The date of conviction, rather than the date of offence, is the relevant date used in calculating whether or not a conviction is spent. If a conviction is not spent then it is referred to an unspent.
We are often asked whether an alcohol related driving offence is spent only after 11 years have lapsed. This is an issue that causes some confusion in the public.
Under section 34(3) of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 a conviction, for specified alcohol related driving offences, is relevant for sentencing for a period of 10 years. However, under the 1974 Act a conviction would be deemed spent after 5 years if a financial penalty or community order was imposed by the Court in addition to the disqualification. If a period of custody was received the conviction would be spent after 7 years. Nonetheless you would still not be entitled to a clean driving licence until 11 years had lapsed from the alcohol related motoring conviction.