Criminal records have always been a matter of public record, but developments in technology has made it easier for potential employers, landlords, lenders and any other interested party to access a person’s criminal and credit records. Most employers do not devote time to manually check criminal records, but with technology this can now be done with the stroke of a keyboard.
Do not let your past stand in the way of your future! Do you have a criminal record for a minor conviction? A criminal record could have a lasting hindering effect on a person’s life and can prevent them from gaining meaningful employment, from getting a visa or from emigrating. These are but a few of the implications that a criminal record can have on a person.
A person can apply to have a criminal record expunged. Expungement of a criminal record is a process by which a criminal record of a convicted offender is removed from the criminal record database of the Criminal Record Centre of the South African Police Service. Application is made to the Department of Justice in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act, 51 of 1977 (“the Act”), to the Director General to have the record removed.
Application can be made in the following circumstances:

  • A period of 10 (ten) years have passed after the date of the conviction for the offence;
  • A person was not convicted and sentenced to a period of imprisonment without the option of a fine during these 10 (ten) years;
  • The sentence was corporal punishment;
  • The sentence was postponed or the person was cautioned and discharged;
  • The sentence was a fine not exceeding R 20 000.00;
  • The sentence was imprisonment with the option to pay a fine (not more than R 20 000.00) instead of serving the period of imprisonment;
  • The sentence was imprisonment in terms of section 276(1)(i) of the Act (this section provides for an offender to be placed on correctional supervision, in the discretion of the Correctional Supervision and Parole Review Board (previously the Commissioner), on expiry of one sixth of the sentence);
  • The sentence was periodical imprisonment in terms of section 276(1)(c) of the Act;
  • Proof is provided that the person’s name has been removed from the National Register of Sex Offenders or National Child Protection Register, if relevant; and
  • The person’s conviction is based on their race.

If the conviction meets the above criteria, the entire criminal record can be expunged.
The following offences are excluded:

  • Crimes where a jail sentence has been imposed and no suspended sentence granted;
  • Crimes involving the elements of violence and sex;
  • Murder;
  • Assault with the intention to do grievous bodily harm;
  • Rape; and
  • Armed robbery.

Procedure to follow:
A Police Clearance Certificate showing an interval of 10 (ten) years between the conviction and the sentence must be obtained. This serves to confirm the details and date of the offence to determine whether a person qualifies to have their criminal record expunged. This can be obtained from your local police station. Thereafter, the application for expungement of a criminal record must be completed and sent to the Director General: Justice and Constitutional Development for consideration. The application form can be obtained from the website of the Department of Justice. If the Director General is satisfied that a person meets the requirements set out above, the Director General will issue a certificate of expungement, directing that a person’s conviction and sentence be expunged. The certificate of expungement will then be issued to the Criminal Record Centre of the South African Police.
The entire process of expungement usually takes about 20 (twenty) to 28 (twenty-eight) weeks.
Do not delay, let us bring your application today!
Author: Sonja Tifloen