Does my conviction still count?
Find out if the conviction you received as a youth has become 'spent'
If you committed an offence three years ago while aged under 18, the chances are that it may be listed as a spent conviction. When a conviction is spent, this means that it gets wiped off the system, and won’t stand to your name anymore. For more information, and to see if your conviction may have become spent, take a look at our guide below.
- Most convictions received for offences committed when aged under 18 become spent after three years. Notable exceptions to this rule are cases that were tried by the Central Criminal Court involving serious offences such as rape and murder. Also, if the person has committed another crime in the intervening three years since the initial offence, aged over or under 18, that can complicate things as well.
- “Spent” means the offence is pretty much wiped off the record in Ireland, and you won’t be treated as a person who has committed a crime or offence in the past. This means that if three or more years has elapsed since the case was dealt with, you DON’T need to mention it in job applications, Garda vetting forms etc.
- This is done automatically, so you don’t have to apply to ensure a conviction becomes spent.
- Although the offence will be considered as spent here, you’ll still have to declare the offence for international travel, as Irish laws only apply to this jurisdiction.
- This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to travel and work, but you could be required to provide further information, or attend an interview at a relevant embassy to prove that you’ve moved on from past offending behaviour. This can be a slow process, so make sure it’s all done in good time if you’re looking to travel abroad.
- This only applies to offences committed under the age of 18. Those committed when aged 18 or over stay on your record and, no matter how minor, can have adverse consequences for things like job and housing applications (although some adult offences don’t appear on Garda vetting after seven years).
Fíona Ní Chinnéide works with the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) to raise awareness of prisoners’ and ex-offenders’ rights. They receive plenty of calls from young people worried about their convictions, and she says it’s important for young offenders to know how the system works.
“It is a very positive aspect of the youth justice system in Ireland, which recognises that children and teenagers can learn from their mistakes - but very few people seem to know about it. It is really important that young people are armed with this information, so that they can challenge it if their convictions continue to show up on their record after the three years.
“In Ireland, if you receive a conviction for an offence committed when you are aged 18 or over, it currently stays on your record for life. What might seem like a minor incident at the time can become a barrier for work, travel, insurance, and even education and training. We regularly receive calls from people who made a small stupid mistake, after a few drinks, when they were 18 or 19, and who now realise that this is a problem for their working visa application for Australia or Canada or the U.S.”