Expungement is 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.
Benefits of Expungement
Expungement of a criminal conviction is an excellent way for an individual to put the past behind them and close a chapter on a past mistake. It can provide persons with peace of mind, freedom to pursue career opportunities and access services that may not have been available to them by virtue of their criminal records.
Securing a Job
The most valuable benefit of expungement is securing a job, a promotion, or retaining the job an individual currently occupies. Employers may conduct background checks before hiring a job applicant. These checks will reveal an applicant´s records of arrests, convictions and probation status. Having a criminal record is in most cases unfavourable. However, a person whose conviction is expunged can have it removed from his/her record.
Personal Satisfaction and Peace of Mind
At times, many persons who have committed offences in the past may not feel truly free or rehabilitated even though they have served prison time or completed the punishment for the offence. In fact, it may be especially difficult for these persons because their records are still in the public domain. Personal satisfaction and peace of mind, however, can be achieved when these persons have their convictions removed from their criminal records.
Access to Loans
Some lending institutions or banks may implement policies that assume that criminal convictions are indications that it is unlikely that an individual will be able to meet his/her financial obligations. This means that persons may face prohibitive interest rates or may not be approved to access a loan. Difficulties can then arise to purchase a car, a home, or fund educational pursuits. When persons take advantage of the expungement provision, they may be able to access services that otherwise might not have been available to them because they had a criminal record.
Eligibility for Expungement
In order to qualify for expungement, two essential conditions must be satisfied:
- The offence in question must be one which attracts a non-custodial sentence or sentence of imprisonment not exceeding five years; and
- The person in question must not have had any other convictions during a specified period of time referred to as the “Rehabilitation Period.”
What is the Rehabilitation Period?
The Rehabilitation Period defines 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 tables 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 18 years and over
Where the sentence imposed does not include imprisonment
Where sentence imposed is imprisonment not exceeding six months
Where sentence imposed is imprisonment for more than six months but not exceeding 36 months
Where sentence imposed is imprisonment for more than 36 months but not exceeding five years
Rehabilitation Periods for persons under 18 years
Where the sentence imposed does not include imprisonment
Where the sentence imposed is imprisonment not exceeding six months
Where the sentence imposed is imprisonment for more than six months but not exceeding 36 months
Where the sentence imposed is imprisonment for more than 36 months but not exceeding five years
Specified offences (hyperlink) under the Third Schedule of the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act are NOT eligible for expungement.
Procedure 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, Ministry of Justice, 61 Constant Spring Road, Kingston 10)
- An applicant must have his/her fingerprints taken at one of the following locations:
- Kingston - Criminal Records Office located at 34 Duke Street
- St James - Summit Police Station
- Clarendon - May Pen Police Station
- St Mary - Area 2 Police Headquarters, Pompano Bay
- An applicant must submit the completed application forms to the Customer Service Desk at the Ministry of Justice with:
- The names, addresses and contact numbers of two referees who are not family members.
- Two letters of recommendation from the referees, these persons may include(Minister of Religion, Justice of the Peace, Principal, Teacher, Attorney-at -Law, Medical Practitioner, Police Officer of Senior Rank)
- Names, addresses and contact numbers of two other persons who can be contacted on the applicant's behalf
- His/her fingerprints impression
- The receipt for fingerprint search
- Any other supporting documentation
The Expungement Process
- Upon receipt of the two application forms along with the supporting documents, a Police Report will be requested from the Criminal Records Office.
- Upon receipt of the Police Report, a review of the application will be made by the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Board and a decision taken. The applicant will then be advised of the decision in writing.
If an applicant requires a CLEAN POLICE RECORD after his/her criminal record has been expunged by the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Board, he/she MUST PAY for this service which is provided by the Criminal Records Office.
Criminal Records may take at least one year to be expunged.
If an individual’s application is rejected, he/she may re-apply to the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Board two years after 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.
Criminal, Civil and Family Law Unit
Ministry of Justice
61 Constant Spring Road,