How A Criminal Record Impacts Your Life

Did you know that having a criminal record when you are under eighteen can impact any future jobs, volunteering opportunities or higher education courses you might apply for? 

Convicted of a crime?

Even if you were under 18 at the time the consequences of a conviction can still impact your life.

If you are convicted of a crime, you will have a period of time to undergo rehabilitation. The more serious the crime, the longer the period of rehabilitation. Once the period of rehabilitation is up then your conviction will be ‘spent’, although prison sentences of more than 30 months mean that the conviction will never be ‘spent’.  

Convictions that are ‘unspent’ mean that there hasn’t been enough time since the original offence without you re-offending, which means that the conviction has to be declared.

What about higher level disclosure checks?

When it comes to higher level disclosures the rules are more strict.

Even if your conviction is spent, it may still have to be disclosed to an employer if it is on the “always disclose” or “disclose subject to rules” list. Also, it may also still have to be disclosed to an employer if it has been less than 7 years and 6 months since you were convicted - this applies to people who were convicted when they were under 18.

Why would you need a higher level disclosure?

Certain types of higher education courses will do high level disclosure checks include Nursing Studies, Early Childhood Studies, Social care and Medical Sciences.

If you are thinking about your future career, some jobs will also do higher level disclosure checks. This includes working as an accountant, a solicitor or a care home assistant.

Even voluntary roles will have high level disclosure checks, including roles as classroom assistants, tutors and helping out at the brownies or scouts.

What does this mean?

It means that for certain jobs, when your conviction is spent you don’t need to disclose it.

But for other jobs, you will have to disclose it, even if it has been spent.

How would it impact people? 

Alistair, 22, a student was thrown off his university training course because of theft committed when he had just turned 17. Five years ago when he was working in a shop, he stole £400 at the request of a more senior member of staff who had helped him.

He admitted theft and a related fraud charge concerning falsifying accounts when he appeared in court. He was given a fine. His mistake was totally out of character and this is the only time he has been in trouble with the law. Alistair has always declared the offence on application forms when asked to do so.

After deciding on a career change to a more ‘caring’ profession, he successfully applied for a place on a three-year nursing course at university. Alistair was aware that a PVG check would be carried out for all applicants and declared his conviction when he received the appropriate form before starting in March this year. But after the university asked for a full written account of his offence, Alistair was told his place had been ‘withdrawn’. The information about Alistair’s criminal record was disclosed on the PVG scheme certificate as the conviction is unspent. It becomes spent if it is 7.5 years old and the offender was aged under 18 years old at the date of conviction. (For those over 18 it becomes spent after 15 years). This means that Alistair will have to declare his conviction until he is ages 24.5 years. The conviction will be included on any higher level disclosure until he is ages 24.5 years old.

Find out more about arrest, detention and sentencing, what the law means for you, and police rights