If you would prefer to view this site without moving graphics please click here Dismiss This Dialogue
Essex Probation

Spent convictions and applying for work

Most criminal convictions are ‘spent’ (forgotten) after a period of time. This means that after this period (which is called the Rehabilitation Period, and is different for different sentences), an ex-offender does not have to reveal it in most circumstances. Prison sentences of over 48 months (4 years) are never spent.

There are some exceptions, but unless you are told one of these applies and are asked for more details of all your cautions or convictions, they need not be disclosed when filling in a form, or at an interview, for instance for a job.

The following sentences become
spent after fixed periods
from the date of conviction.
Over 18 when convicted Under 18 when convicted
Prison Sentence
(including suspended sentences)
6 months to 2.5 years
Total length of sentence
(including licence period)
plus 4 years
Total length of sentence
(including licence period)
plus 2 years
Prison Sentence
(including suspended sentences)
6 months or less
Total length of sentence
(including licence period)
plus 2 years
Total length of sentence
(including licence period)
plus 18 months
Fine 1 year 6 months
Compensation orders Spent once paid in full Spent once paid in full
Reparation orders Spent once paid in full Spent once paid in full
Probation, supervision, care order,
conditional discharge or bind-over
Spent at end of the order Spent at end of the order
Absolute discharge Spent immediately Spent immediately
Please note: Prison sentences of more
than 48 months
(4 years) or a
public protection
sentence never
become spent.
Never Never

For some jobs, you have to disclose spent convictions as well as unspent ones. These jobs include:

  • Working with children and vulnerable adults, such as elderly and disabled people
  • Senior roles in banking and the financial services industry
  • Certain posts connected to law enforcement, including the judiciary and the police
  • Work involving national security
  • Certain posts in the prison service
  • Certain professions in areas such as health, pharmacy and the law
  • Private security work.

For more information, ask your Offender Manager, see ‘Your Rights’ or visit the Gov Careers Advice website.