The difference between a spent and unspent conviction is based on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and depends on the sentence a person received in court.
For example, a conviction resulting in a fine would not become spent until 1 year has elapsed from the date of the conviction, not the date the offence was committed.
Let's delve deeper into what is and isn't included for both.
What are Spent Convictions?
Spent convictions are convictions, final warnings, and/or reprimands from the Police National Computer (PNC) that have passed a specific amount of time.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 suggests the individual should be treated as though the offences never happened if the conviction is spent.
What are Unspent Convictions?
Unspent convictions are convictions, final warnings, and/or reprimands from the PNC that have not passed a specific amount of time.
There are specific convictions which will never become spent. These can include terrorism or sexual offences.
Below is a more detailed description of how long it takes for convictions to become spent.
What Is the Filtering of Convictions?
Not all convictions are required to be disclosed in a DBS Check.
Certain convictions and cautions are filtered out through the 'Filtering of Convictions' and these are not included in a DBS check.
Filtering of Cautions
A caution will not be disclosed in a DBS Certificate if 6 years after the date of caution has passed.
If the caution is received when the person was under 18 years of age, then the caution can be filtered after only two years.
Filtering of Convictions
Convictions from the Police National Computer are filtered as follows:
A conviction which didn't result in prison or a suspended prison sentence will not be disclosed in a DBS Certificate after a period of eleven years from the date of the initial conviction has passed.
If the conviction was received when the person was under 18 years of age, the period is halved to 5 and a half years.
Exceptions from the Filtering of Convictions
Filtering is nullified if there is more than one conviction on a person's PNC record and in this case, all convictions will be disclosed in a DBS check.
This rule does not apply to cautions, however. If they fit the filtering criteria, they will be filtered out no matter how many there are.
Certain Convictions Will Never Be Filtered!
Certain convictions will never be filtered as they can never become spent and because of this, will always be disclosed on a DBS disclosure.
Offences which are committed under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for example, are never filtered from a DBS check.
So there is our guide to what the difference is between Spent and Unspent Convictions. If you have any other questions about DBS Checks, you could find the answer on our FAQ page, which you can find here.
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