18 Mar Will I Get a Conviction?
Having a criminal conviction recorded against your name can have a negative impact on employment and travel opportunities. However, as a society, we understand that sometimes good people make mistakes. The Court has a discretion not to impose a conviction when sentencing a person for an offence. There is, however, a strict criteria that must be followed which is set out in section 24 of the Sentencing Act 2017. That criteria is as follows:
If a court finds a person guilty of an offence for which it proposes to impose a fine, a sentence of community service, or both, and the court is of the opinion—
(a) that the defendant is unlikely to commit such an offence again; and
(b) that, having regard to—
(i) the character, antecedents, age, or physical or mental condition, of the defendant;or
(ii) the fact that the offence was trifling; or
(iii) any other extenuating circumstances,
good reason exists for not recording a conviction,
the court may impose the penalty without recording a conviction.
A Judge or Magistrate’s power not to impose a conviction is also contained in section 97 of the Sentencing Act 2017. Under this section, the Court can discharge a defendant without recording a conviction or imposing any other penalty and instead order that the defendant enter into a good behaviour bond.
If you are guilty of an offence and concerned about what impact a conviction will have on your future, it is important to seek legal advice. A Judge or Magistrate will want to hear submissions about why a conviction should not be recorded. This can be difficult to argue in certain circumstances and for certain types of offences. For example, a defendant will usually receive a conviction for a traffic related offence however there are some circumstances where we have been successful in arguing that no conviction should be imposed.
A conviction remains on a defendant’s record indefinitely. If, after a period of ten years, a person has not committed any further offences they can apply to the Court to have their conviction ‘spent’. Having a conviction spent means that the conviction will be wiped from the persons record. Similar to applying for without conviction, there is a criteria and process that must be followed when applying for a spent conviction. If you would like some advice about convictions please contact us to arrange an appointment with one of our experienced criminal lawyers.