The Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act, 2016 came into law on 29th April, 2016. This is of enormous impact for anyone who has made a serious mistake and had a conviction marked against them.
Having a criminal conviction can have all sorts of negative consequences including in relation to
- Getting a job
- Insurance cover may be denied
- Getting certain types of licences can be very difficult
- Travelling to certain countries may be impossible.
The Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act, 2016 provides that certain minor convictions will become spent and wiped from your record after 7 years. This means that an adult will not have to disclose the conviction at that point.
Section 5 of the Act sets out the convictions which may be considered spent after 7 years. In general, these convictions are
- all convictions in the District Court for motoring offences except for dangerous driving limited to a single conviction
- all convictions in the District Court for public order offences
- a single conviction (not for a motoring or a public order offence) in the District Court or Circuit Court which resulted in a term of imprisonment of 12 months or less.
The Act does not apply to convictions for a sexual offence or a conviction in the Central Criminal Court.
Also, no more than one conviction may be regarded as a spent conviction and if a person has more than one conviction, this section shall not apply to that person.
Once the conviction is spent you are not obliged to disclose it, except in certain circumstances. However, you may have to disclose it in Court proceedings-see section 7 of the Act.
Section 8 states that you must disclose it to an Garda Siochána if they arrest you to investigate an offence, you must disclose it when applying for citizenship, or during an investigation under the Central Bank Reform Act, 2010.
Also, if you have been convicted of deceit or fraud you must disclose it to an insurance company when filling out any of their forms; you must also disclose it when applying for certain types of licences such as a firearms licence or a PSV licence, taxi, or private security licence.
Generally, you do not have to disclose it when applying for employment.
However, there are exceptions eg when applying to join an Garda Siochána or the Courts Service or employment related to children or vulnerable adults.
Also, when travelling to other countries, for example the United States or Australia, you are bound by the laws of the other country and may have to disclose.