Written 27th February 2014 by Olliers Solicitors

The Government has recently announced a long due overhaul of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act due to be implemented on the 10th March this year. This legislation determines when offences become ‘spent’, or when an ex-offender no longer has to declare them.


There is an obligation for an ex-offender to declare previous convictions if they were committed within the spent period, usually when applying for a job, when asked to do so. This had the unfortunate consequence of the person declaring previous offences being unable to get the job they wanted to obtain due to those previous convictions. People who do not declare convictions when they should risk not only termination of employment but also potential prosecution for fraud.

The changes are being brought in under sections 139 and 141 and schedule 25 to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. These reforms shorten the rehabilitation periods for most convictions, after which they are considered to be ‘spent’ and need no longer be disclosed for most purposes.

The changes also affect the scope of the original legislation. Whereas previously, the longest custodial sentence which could be spent was 30 months is now to be extended to a maximum sentence of 48 months. These changes will act retrospectively.

The changes can be seen as follows:

Sentence New Period (From March 2014) Buffer period (will apply from end of sentence) Current Law (Pre March 2014) (applies from date of conviction)
Non Custodial    
Absolute discharge None 6 months
Conditional discharge, referral order, reparation order, action plan order, supervision order, bind over order, hospital order Period of order Various – mostly between one year and length of the Order
Fine 1 years (from date of conviction) 5 years
Community order (& Youth Rehabilitation Order) 1 year 5 years
0 – 6 months 2 years 7 years
6 – 30 months 4 years 10 years
30 months – 4 years 7 years Never spent
Over 4 years Never spent Never spent


Toby Wilbraham


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