Expungement is the process of having a conviction removed from one’s criminal record after a specific period of time has elapsed, and certain requirements are met.
The statute authorizing expungement is the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act, 1988 (Act 18 of 1988). For details on rehabilitation periods, see Sections 5 and 16 of the Act.
The principle underlying this provision is that a person who has made a sincere and successful attempt to live down a conviction should be given the opportunity to start afresh without being haunted by his/her past.
In order to qualify, two essential conditions must be satisfied by an individual:
The rehabilitation period is the period that a person must wait before an application can be made for the expungement of a conviction record. This period varies according to the sentence imposed by the Court and ranges from a minimum of six years for non-custodial sentences to a maximum of twenty years for custodial sentences. The rehabilitation period is calculated from the date when the prison term ends or upon the satisfaction of the Court’s sentence.
Phase 1 - In this first phase the conviction is referred to as “Spent”, after the lapse of the Rehabilitation period.
Phase 2 - In the second phase, the conviction is expunged, or removed from the record after the lapse of a further Rehabilitation period of equal duration to the first rehabilitation period.
The applicant is required to complete an Application Form in duplicate (application forms are available online or at the Customer Service Desk, Ground Floor, Air Jamaica Building, 72 Harbour Street, Kingston.
This completed form must be returned along with a copy of the applicant’s fingerprints to the Customer Service Desk. Fingerprints impressions can be done at any Police Station or at the Criminal Records Office located at 34 Duke Street, Kingston.
A ruling to determine the applicant’s eligibility is then made by the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Board, following which the applicant is advised, in writing, of the outcome.
If the applicant is eligible, he/she is required to pay the prescribed fee of three thousand dollars (J$3,000.00 - Effective June 1, 2013) for the processing of the fingerprint search. This fee should be paid at any Inland Revenue Office in the island. The receipt should be handed to the Customer Service Representative at the Customer Service Desk, Ground Floor, Air Jamaica Building, 72 Harbour Street, Kingston, Jamaica.
When this is done, a request will be made for a Police Report from the Criminal Records Office to verify the offence(s) the applicant committed. The applicant is also requested to submit two letters of recommendation, one from a referee and the other from an associate. (Please note these persons should not be family members)
After all the required information has been received, a final review is made by the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Board and a decision taken.
The applicant is advised of the decision that has been made and the Criminal Records Office informed of the outcome.
At this stage, the applicant can apply for a Police Certificate in the usual manner to obtain a clean police record at the Criminal Records Office without disclosure of the offence which was expunged.
The only payment that is required is the fee for the fingerprint search of three thousand dollars (J$3,000.00 - Effective June 1, 2013) which can be made at any Inland Revenue Office in Jamaica.
It takes between 6 and 12 months to complete the process.
A person whose application has been rejected by the Board may re-apply to the Board after the expiration of two years.
Where the re-application is rejected by the Board, the person may make an appeal to the Minister of Justice in keeping with Section 27-28 of the Act.