Kids will be kids. Sometimes they fall in with the wrong crowd and sometimes they’ll do something stupid because they just don’t stop for a moment to think about the consequences. And sometimes they find themselves in trouble with the police and get charged with a criminal offense.
Will a childhood criminal record affect them for the rest of their lives? Laws in a number of countries like the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia were designed in such a way as to allow people to put any childhood mistakes behind them and go on with their lives unaffected, at least if they were only convicted for minor offenses. Here’s what you need to know.
What is the Spent Convictions Scheme?
The Spent Convictions Scheme allows citizens of certain countries to have their criminal records cleared after a certain time during which they must not get arrested or charged with any other new offense. The scheme applies to all citizens, but is more lenient when it comes to those who committed certain offenses as minors.
For the general population, the good behavior waiting time is 10 years. After that, minor offenses on their criminal record will no longer be disclosed during a routine background check.
What sort of offenses are covered by the Spent Convictions Scheme?
The scheme only covers minor offenses carrying reduced prison sentences. In most cases, this refers to crimes for which the punishment is less than six months in prison, although some states for eligible countries like Australia have extended that to 30 months.
Serious crimes, like those of a sexual nature, are not covered by this scheme so they won’t become spent no matter how much time has passed.
What happens after the waiting period?
In countries like the U.S., Australia, and others, this is an automatic process. Once the waiting period is over, the conviction is spent. In practical terms, this means that if you need to get a background check, for employment purposes, for instance, the spent offense will not be disclosed. Your criminal history check will come back clean and won’t indicate the offenses committed as a minor.
How do I know what my criminal record looks like?
If you committed certain offenses as a minor it is understandable to be nervous about getting a background check, especially if you apply for a really good job. You don’t want to lose that opportunity because you did something that wasn’t smart when you were 17.
If you’re in such a situation, the best thing is to order a background check on yourself to see what your record looks like. You can do this by using the services of an online background check service like the one here: go now or you can get a check from a local police station or a post office.