Clearing your criminal record

Clearing your criminal record
Get your freedom back

You can apply for expungement of your criminal record provided you meet the criteria, allowing you to carry on with life without a criminal record being an obstruction to employment opportunities.

Michael Visser
Michael Visser - Head of Legal - Helpline
7 December 2020 | 3 minute read
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All the info you need to clear your criminal record  

Having a criminal record after you have repaid your debt to society makes many areas of your life very challenging. From job hunting to travelling, you get treated with caution and scepticism. Yet, it is possible to expunge your record with the right guidance and following the correct steps.

What is a criminal record?

A criminal record is a record of your criminal history on the National Criminal Register
This history is accessible to potential employees, lenders and others who use it to access your credibility and trustworthiness. It lists every criminal offence where you have pleaded guilty or been found guilty by a court, from speeding tickets to all arrests.  

Job hunting with a record 

Job hunting without a record is hard enough in today's economy. Having a record makes this process so much harder. Before a potential employee hires a candidate, it is common to run a background check. The nature of your crime is very much taken into consideration and will affect your job prospects.   

Travelling with a record 

Whether you want to go on holiday or attend a wedding, you must look into the policies of the country you want to go to as each country differs on whether or not they allow people with a criminal record to enter the country. 

The lifespan of a criminal record 

Criminals records don't last forever, but there are several factors which need to be taken into consideration to determine how long you will have a record for, like the number of years of your sentence, as well as what you were convicted of. 

Procedure to follow

There are several organisations that can assist with an application for a fee or you can apply directly to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

You must first obtain a Police Clearance Certificate from the Criminal Record Centre of the South African Police Service.

Then complete the application for expungement and attached all necessary documentation together with the clearance certificate.

You can either post or deliver by hand.

If the Director General is satisfied that you meet all the requirements for an expungement then same will be granted and you will be notified by the Head of the Criminal Record Centre.

Criteria to qualify for clearance 

There are several qualifying criteria needed to clear your record:

  • There should be a 10 year interval between the date of conviction and the expungement application and you have had no other convictions and jailed without the option of a fine during the 10 year interval.
  • You were sentenced for what is considered minor crimes, corporal punishment  or politically motivated crimes or your conviction was based on your race.
  • Imprisonment was suspended wholly or with the option to pay a fine instead or correctional supervision.

What will stop you from qualifying?

There are also several factors which will prevent you from getting your record cleared:

  • You were condemned of a sexual offence against a child or a mentally challenged  person.
  • You are on the National Registry for sex offenders or National Child Protection Registry.
  • You were guilty of a serious crime and and sentenced to direct imprisonment or a fine of more than R 20 000 was imposed.

Paying an admission of guilt fine 

If you were arrested on a minor offence charge, you should be given the option to pay an admission of guilt fine. It is important to note that the admission of guilt fine is entirely separate from paying for bail, which allows you to stay out of jail while your case is heard. If you need help to understand this process, we have experienced attorneys available for consult immediately. Paying this fine means that you admit to guilt and in some cases (not all) still find yourself with a criminal record. 

How can we help?

If you meet the criteria you can choose to apply to have your record expunged, which is a free service offered by the Justice Department and the Constitutional Development department. However, we understand the process might be overwhelming, which is why we are here to help you. 

With Legal&Tax you're not alone

Legal&Tax is your companion. Our experts can help advise you on how to follow the correct legal procedure and what legal steps you might be able to take to clear your criminal record. Contact us for more information 

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