The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald T.D. recently announced the commencement of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 which provides for a range of minor offences which will become spent after seven years.
Section 5 provides that where a person is convicted of an offence and a number of conditions are satisfied then the conviction may be regarded as a spent conviction. Amongst the conditions include:
(a) The person has reached the age of 18 at the date of commission of the offence in question;
(b) Not less than 7 years have passed since the effective date of the conviction;
(c) the sentence imposed by the court in respect of the conviction wasn’t an excluded sentence (including certain offences under the Road Traffic Acts, the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988 and the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994;
(d) the person has served or undergone/complied with any sentence imposed or order made by the court in dealing with the person in respect of the conviction concerned;
(e) No more than one conviction can be regarded as a spent conviction and Section 5 wont apply to a person who has more than one conviction;
(f) Where a person is convicted of two or more offences which are committed simultaneously or arise from the same incident and if a court imposes more than one relevant sentence in respect of those offences, the convictions will be regarded as a single conviction.
Section 6 provides that where a person who has a conviction which is regarded as a spent conviction they cannot be compelled by any rule of law or by the provisions of any agreement or arrangement to disclose that conviction or any circumstances ancillary to it. If a question is put to a person (otherwise than before a court) in relation to the spent conviction, the person can respond in accordance with the fact that the question is not regarded as applying to the spent conviction. In addition the person will not incur any liability or otherwise be prejudiced in law because they did not disclose that they had a spent conviction.
In our next blog post we will look at the various exceptions under the Act and the key provisions affecting the employment relationship.