All you need to know about ‘Spent Convictions’


The law whereby information can be found in relation to spent convictions is contained within the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This Act applies to reformed offenders who have stayed on the right side of the law in order to support the rehabilitation of offenders back into employment.


Eventually all cautions and convictions become spent, with the exception of custodial sentences over 2 ½ years. The length of time (also known as the ‘rehabilitation period’) before a conviction or caution becomes spent is determined by the type of disposal imposed. Please see the table below for more information on this.


Once the caution or conviction becomes spent, the offender does not have to reveal it or admit its existence when seeking employment. However as with every rule, there are some exceptions and those apply here. There are many jobs out there that you would not have to declare any spent convictions to potential employers however there are a number of jobs to which you would still have to declare spent convictions, all of which can be found within the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975. Positions that you would have to declare such convictions include employment with children or vulnerable adults, law enforcement and within healthcare. This is not an exhaustive list therefore we would advise that you consider the full list contained with the Act or contact us at our Leicester or Loughborough offices and we can endeavour to assist.


Once a conviction becomes spent, it remains spent event if an offender is convicted of other offences later.


Sentence/Disposal Rehabilitation Period

(18 or over)

Rehabilitation Period

(under 18)

Custodial Sentence of over 4 years or a Public Protection Sentence Never Spent Never Spent
Custodial Sentence of over 2 ½ years (30 months) and up to 4 years 7 Years 3 ½ Years
Custodial Sentence over 6 months but less than 2 ½ years (30 months) 4 Years 2 Years
Custodial Sentence up to 6 months 2 Years 18 Months
Fine 1 Years 6 Months
Community Sentence 1 Years 6 Months
Conditional Discharge The Period of the Order The Period of the Order
Absolute Discharge No Rehabilitation Period No Rehabilitation Period
Conditional Caution 3 Months 3 Months
Caution, Reprimand, Final Warning Immediately Spent Immediately Spent