Mr Alan Shatter, T.D., Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Announces the Publication of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter, T.D., announced today the publication of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012, which was approved by Government on 1 May 2012.  The Bill provides for certain convictions to become spent after a number of years conviction-free have elapsed.  The length of time that a person must remain conviction-free ranges from 3 to 7 years depending on the sentence originally imposed by the courts.  Custodial sentences of 1 year or less as well as a range of non custodial sentences are covered by the Bill.

The Minister said that the publication of the Bill was a significant milestone in the rehabilitation of offenders in Ireland.  He went on to say that "This legislation brings Ireland into line with most other EU Member States in providing that people convicted of offences can eventually leave their past behind them and get on with their lives.  The Bill should be of particular benefit to ex-offenders, who often find their path to employment blocked, once they admit to a previous offence."

The Minister continued "I believe that society’s interests and those of the offender who mends his or her ways can coincide.  It is in everyone’s interest that offenders who have paid their debt to society and want to leave crime behind are encouraged to do so.  Insofar as this legislation can help, then it is to be welcomed by all."

The Minister concluded by saying that he hopes to have the Bill enacted without delay and looks forward to a constructive debate on its provisions in the Oireachtas.



The Law Reform Commission published its Report on Spent Convictions in 2007 (LRC 84-2007).  The Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012 is designed to assist with the rehabilitation of offenders by making it easier for them to access employment.

The key features of the Bill are:


·    It applies to adults and provides for adults a non-disclosure regime similar to that applying to children under section 258 of the Children Act 2001 (see note under).

·    It only applies to prison sentences of 12 months or less or to lesser penalties such as the imposition of community service or fines.

·    It is self-administered.  A person does not need to apply to have a conviction declared spent.

·    Sexual offences and offences that fall to be tried by the Central Criminal Court are excluded from the purview of the Bill.

·    No more than 2 convictions during an individual’s life may become spent.

·    The conviction-free periods that must be served before a conviction will become spent range from 3 years for a small fine to 7 years for a 1 year jail sentence.

·    Anyone seeking to work with or provide services (care and accommodation) to children (under 18) or vulnerable adults will have to declare their convictions.

·    A range of employments, including those relating to the security of the State, the administration of justice and other sensitive positions, are excluded.

·    Convictions will have to be disclosed when applying for certain licences (taxis, private security, etc).


Children Act 2001

Section 258 of the Children Act 2001 provides that where a person is under 18 years at the date of the commission of an offence (other than an offence that falls to be tried by the Central Criminal Court), they may not be required to disclose the conviction after three years has elapsed since the conviction, and provided they have not been convicted during that 3 year period.


04 May, 2012