YOUR LIFE Hav­ing a crim­i­nal record

If you're look­ing for a job, a crim­i­nal record can limit your chances of get­ting hired

Move! - - CONTENTS - By Vin­cent Phahlane

HAV­ING a crim­i­nal record can de­stroy your chances of get­ting em­ployed if you don't have a job. You could also miss out on a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties in other ar­eas of your life. From the job ap­pli­ca­tion process right through to the fi­nal in­ter­view stages, land­ing a job will not be a walk in the park as em­ploy­ers are cau­tious about who they hire.


A crim­i­nal record is a record of your crim­i­nal his­tory and is used by po­ten­tial em­ploy­ers, lenders and oth­ers to as­sess your trust­wor­thi­ness.

The in­for­ma­tion in­cluded in a crim­i­nal record varies be­tween coun­tries and even be­tween au­thor­i­ties in a coun­try. In most cases, it lists all crim­i­nal of­fences and may also in­clude traf­fic of­fences such as speed­ing and drunk driv­ing.

In some coun­tries, the record is lim­ited to ac­tual con­vic­tions where the in­di­vid­ual has pleaded guilty or was found guilty by the court.

In other coun­tries, it also in­cludes ar­rests, charges dis­missed, charges pend­ing and charges of which an in­di­vid­ual has been ac­quit­ted.

SAPS’ Cap­tain Thi­nan­davha Lufhugu adds that a crim­i­nal record is the for­mal record of of­fences that you’ve been con­victed of whether you’ve pleaded guilty or been found guilty. If you have been found not guilty, it will not re­flect on your record.

“Gen­er­ally, the po­lice will not re­lease your crim­i­nal record with­out your con­sent, but there are ex­cep­tions, in­clud­ing re­quests from other po­lice forces and courts. You might need a copy of your

crim­i­nal record to apply for a job, to work as a vol­un­teer, with chil­dren or apply for in­sur­ance,” he says.


There are sev­eral or­gan­i­sa­tions, such as Fresh Start Law Cen­tre, you can con­tact to help you clear your crim­i­nal record at a fee. This means it will be as if you never had the con­vic­tion to be­gin with.

“If you’re found guilty or plead guilty to an of­fence, the mag­is­trate may de­cide not to record a con­vic­tion. In this case, you gen­er­ally won’t have a crim­i­nal record, but there are ex­cep­tions, so it’s best to check with the mag­is­trate,” says Cap­tain Thi­nan­davha.

He ex­plains that crim­i­nal records don’t nec­es­sar­ily last for­ever, it dif­fers with the num­ber of years you have been sen­tenced to.


Your crim­i­nal record can be ex­punged if 10 years have lapsed after the date of your con­vic­tion of your of­fence.

You have not been con­victed and im­pris­oned for any other of­fence dur­ing those 10 years. Your con­vic­tion was based on your race. You did not re­ceive a di­rect prison sen­tence for your con­vic­tion, ex­cept a sen­tence of pe­ri­od­i­cal im­pris­on­ment or cor­rec­tional su­per­vi­sion.

Your record can be ex­punged after five years for other cases, un­less you were or­dered to pay resti­tu­tion.

Pros­e­cu­tors, courts and cer­tain jobs may still re­quire you to men­tion your crim­i­nal his­tory, even if the ap­pro­pri­ate time has passed.


Cap­tain Thi­nan­davha ad­vises on a pro­ce­dure to follow to ob­tain ex­punge­ment of your crim­i­nal record.

“A po­lice clear­ance cer­tifi­cate show­ing an in­ter­val of 10 years be­tween your con­vic­tion and sen­tence must be ob­tained from the Crim­i­nal Record Cen­tre of the South African Po­lice Ser­vice to con­firm the de­tails and dates of the of­fence,” he says.

“Go to your near­est po­lice sta­tion to fill the form and then the po­lice sta­tion will re­fer you to the Depart­ment of Jus­tice and Con­sti­tu­tional Devel­op­ment in Pre­to­ria where they will process your ap­pli­ca­tion within six weeks. Your crim­i­nal record will be cleared,” he ad­vises.


Wassina Ben­ito from Fresh Start Law Cen­tre says it is not nec­es­sary to get a lawyer to clear your crim­i­nal record.

“In com­mon be­lief, most crim­i­nal records are not au­to­mat­i­cally cleared after five or 10 years. If you were con­victed for a mi­nor or ma­jor case, the court of law will au­to­mat­i­cally clear it with­out any con­cern of a lawyer,” she says.

She says if you are seek­ing ex­punge­ment for a time-sen­si­tive rea­son such as an ap­pli­ca­tion for fi­nan­cial aid or ap­ply­ing for hous­ing on a com­pet­i­tive ba­sis and you think your case may fall into one of the above cat­e­gories, then you should def­i­nitely seek the ser­vices of a lawyer.

You do not nec­es­sar­ily need the ser­vices of a lawyer to clear your crim­i­nal record as there are or­gan­i­sa­tions that can help you with this

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