How long does a criminal record last in South Africa? It is an important question to know the answer to. If you have committed a crime, no matter how small, you will want to know if you will ever have a clean record again.
If you do not have a criminal record, there is no doubt that you have heard of crimes by individuals who have now been charged.
You would not want to hire a thief without knowing it because his criminal record has been dropped!
Understanding some of the criminal process is good knowledge for anybody to have. If you take note of the following information, you will have all your questions answered.
What is a criminal record?
A criminal record is a record against an individual’s name detailing any crimes that they may have been charged for.
If there is more than one crime, all crimes will be listed on the individual’s record.
A person who commits a relatively petty crime, like pickpocketing or something similar, will still have a record.
On this document, alongside the actual crimes, there will usually be details of how the crime was committed, when it took place. As well as what happened at the trial and what the eventual penalty was.
Why do criminals get criminal records?
A criminal record has several purposes. And all of them are very important in order to maintain the safety of individuals and their property, and to maintain order in our society.
A criminal record is an account of wrongdoing which any prospective employer could have access to.
If an individual who has been charged with drunken driving and reckless endangerment on the roads. And he or she applies for a job as a school bus driver or a taxi driver, the company will do a background check. To find out what the individual has done in the past.
The record will have helped the company against hiring someone who is a potential liability to their company and a danger to their clients.
The database of criminal records helps individuals involved in the justice system to keep track of who has committed which crimes. Take this scenario as an example:
An individual breaks into a house and steals some things. He is caught running down the road with some jewelry. Then he is arrested and his fingerprints are taken. He is charged and serves his time.
Some time later he is back on the street. Another housebreaking occurs and jewelry goes missing. Police dust the house for fingerprints and then run them against their database. The fingerprints found at the second house breaking are those of the previous burglar.
Police then know who the individual is and have a good idea of where to find him. Because he already has a criminal record, the penalties served to him will be more severe this time.
The length of time that a criminal record lasts depends on things such as:
- The type of crime
- The extenuating circumstances
- The age of the individual
If an 18 year old is caught shoplifting costume jewelry and charged, the criminal record will not hold for life.
Usually, after some time, there will no longer be a criminal record.
Can you get a criminal record expunged?
It is possible to get a criminal record expunged. If you committed a relatively petty crime, and once you have lived with a record for some time, you can apply for it to be expunged.
Your request and your circumstances will be reviewed and a court will make a decision.