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New bill will allow minor criminal records to be wiped

The Spent Convictions Bill will strike out some convictions if the person has not been convicted again within a certain period.

Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

NEW LEGISLATION being published today will allow people with minor convictions to wipe them from their criminal records if they don’t incur any new convictions.

The Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012 will allow certain convictions to become ‘spent’ after a period between three to seven years, depending on the sentence originally imposed by the courts.

The Bill will allow people convicted of crimes carrying jail times of a year or less, as well as crimes which carry non-custodial sentences, to act as if their convictions had never existed. It was approved at Cabinet level on Tuesday.

Justice minister Alan Shatter said the Bill was a “significant milestone” in moves to rehabilitate offenders, and said it would bring Ireland into line with the practice in other EU countries.

Shatter said the fact that ex-offenders would now be able to withhold details about certain prior convictions would be of assistance when they tried to re-enter the workforce.

“It is in everyone’s interest that offenders who have paid their debt to society and want to leave crime behind are encouraged to do so,” the minister said.

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The self-administered scheme will see people be able to withhold details about previous convictions within three years, if they had paid only a fine for their offence, extending to seven years in cases where they had spent 12 months in jail.

The provisions will not apply when people are applying for jobs working in care services to children or vulnerable adults, for security positions, and when applying for licences as taxi drivers and bouncers.

It will also not apply to individuals who were imprisoned for longer than 12 months.

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Gavan Reilly

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