What is Expungment?

Procedures to Apply for Expungement

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.

Download Expungement Application form here

Expungement of Criminal Records

Expungement is essentially having a conviction removed from one’s criminal/police record after a specific period of time has elapsed and after certain requirements have been met.

The Statute which authorises the expungement of Criminal Records is the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act, 1988.

The principle underlying this provision is that a person who has made a sincere and successful attempt to be law abiding should be given the opportunity to start afresh without being haunted by his/ her unfortunate past.

In order to qualify for expungement, two essential conditions must be satisfied:

1. The offence in question must be one which attracts a non-custodial sentence or sentence of imprisonment not exceeding five years; and

2. The person in question must not have had any other convictions during a specified period of time referred to as the “Rehabilitation Period.”

Specified OFFENCES under schedule of the criminal records (rehabilitation of offenders) act are not eligible of being expunged

What is the Rehabilitation Period?

The Rehabilitation Period is simply the period that a person must wait before an application can be made for the expungement of a conviction. This Period varies according to the sentence imposed by the Court and ranges from a minimum of three years for non-custodial sentences to a maximum of ten years for custodial sentences. The Rehabilitation Period is calculated from the date of the expiration of the term of imprisonment in the case of custodial sentences, and in other cases upon the satisfaction of the Court’s sentence.

An offender cannot apply for an expungement until the relevant Rehabilitation Period has expired. The sentence imposed by the Court will determine the Rehabilitation Period that must elapse. (See the table below for the applicable rehabilitation periods.)

It is important to note that where an offender is convicted of certain offences during the rehabilitation period, the record may become ineligible for expungement.

Rehabilitation Periods for persons eighteen years and older

Sentence

Spent

Where the sentence imposed does not include imprisonment 

Three years (3)

Where sentence imposed is imprisonment not exceeding six months

Five years (5)

Where sentence imposed is imprisonment for more than six months but not exceeding  36 months

Seven years (7)

Where sentence imposed is imprisonment for more than 36 months but not exceeding 5 years

Ten years (10)

Rehabilitation of Offender under the age of 18 years

Sentence

Spent

Where the sentence imposed does not include imprisonment 

Eighteen (18) months

Where sentence imposed is imprisonment not exceeding six months

Thirty (30) months

Where sentence imposed is imprisonment for more than six months but not exceeding  36 months

Forty-two (42) months

Where sentence imposed is imprisonment for more than 36 months but not exceeding 5 years

Five  years (5)

How to Apply for Expungement

  • An applicant must visit the Customer Service Desk at the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Ground Floor Air Jamaica Building, 72 Harbour Street, Kingston and request an application form which should be completed in duplicate or visit the MOJ’s website at  www.moj.gov.jm and download an application form.
     
  • An applicant must have his/her fingerprints taken at any Police Station or the Fingerprinting Division, Criminal Records Office, 34 Duke Street, Kingston.
     
  • An applicant must submit the completed application form including the names and addresses of two referees and two associates (these persons should not be family members) along with fingerprints and supporting documentation to the Customer Service Representative at the Ministry of Justice.

The Expungement process

  • The application is reviewed by the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Board to determine the applicant’s eligibility.
     
  • If the applicant is eligible, then contact is made with the referees and associates requesting recommendations on the applicant’s behalf.
     
  • The applicant will be asked to pay a prescribed fee of $3,000 for the fingerprint search. This should be paid to the cashier at any Inland Revenue Department in Jamaica and a receipt collected and handed to the customer service representative at MOJ.
     
  • A police report is then requested from the Criminal Records Office.
     
  • When all the required information is received; a final review is made by the Board and a decision taken.
     
  • Each applicant is notified of the Board’s decision by telephone and/or by mail.

Note: The only payment required for this process is the fee for the fingerprint search.

Processing Period

Criminal Records may take up to one year to be expunged.

Appeal

If an individual’s application is rejected, he/she may re-apply to the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Board after two years from the date of rejection. If the second application is also rejected, the individual may appeal to the Minister of Justice within sixty days from the date of the second rejection.

Benefits of Expungement

 

Getting a Job

The most valuable benefit of expunging your criminal record is that it can assist you in getting a better job, securing a promotion, or holding the job you currently have. Nearly every employer does a background check before hiring a job applicant. The check reveals applicant´s records of arrests, convictions and probation status. Having a criminal record is in most cases unfavourable.  But a person whose conviction is expunged can erase the conviction from his/her record.

Personal Satisfaction and Peace of Mind

Although there are many other reasons why expunging your criminal record is definitely to your advantage, the most important one might be your own peace of mind. While you have that mark on your record, it’s hard to feel truly free and rehabilitated. When you clear your record you have a clean slate. Even if you’ve completed your punishment for the offence, it’s sometimes hard to feel like it’s completely behind you while your criminal record is still in the public domain.

Getting a Loan

Some loan agencies or banks may practice policies based on the assumption that a criminal conviction is an indication that someone is less likely to meet his/her financial obligations. That means you may be facing prohibitive interest rates or be unable to get a loan at all. The impact of which may include difficulties in buying a car, a home, or paying for an education. Combine that with the difficulty in getting a job and you could be in a very tough situation.

Expungement of a criminal conviction is an excellent way for you to put the past behind you and close a chapter on a past mistake. It can provide you with a clean slate, piece of mind, and the freedom to pursue career opportunities and access services that may not have been available with a criminal record.