Guidance

Rehabilitation Periods

A table of rehabilitation periods for the most common sentences and disposals, and example scenarios.

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA), eligible convictions or cautions become ‘spent’ after a specified period of time, known as the ‘rehabilitation period’.

The rehabilitation periods depend on:

  • the sentence given or disposal administered as a result of a conviction
  • the age of the individual on the date they are convicted

The table below shows the rehabilitation periods for the most common sentences and disposals.

Rehabilitation Periods table

Sentence or disposal Rehabilitation period if aged 18 or over when convicted or disposal administered Rehabilitation period if aged under 18 when convicted or disposal administered
A custodial sentence which is any of the following: a) over 4 years, b) an indeterminate sentence, c) a minimum sentence for public protection or d) a prison sentence with an extended period on licence These sentences are excluded from rehabilitation and so will always be disclosed These sentences are excluded from rehabilitation and so will always be disclosed
A custodial sentence of over 2 years 6 months but not exceeding 4 years 7 years from the date on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed 3 years 6 months from the date on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed
A custodial sentence of over 6 months but not exceeding 2 years 6 months* 4 years from the date on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed 2 years from the date on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed
A custodial sentence of up to 6 months* 2 years from the date on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed 1 year 6 months from the date on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed
A sentence of service detention 1 year from the date on which the sentence was completed 6 months from the date on which the sentence was completed
Dismissal from Her Majesty’s Service 1 year from the date of conviction 6 months from the date of conviction
Fine 1 year from the date of the conviction in respect of which the fine was imposed 6 months from the date of the conviction in respect of which the fine was imposed
Community order or youth rehabilitation order 1 year from the last day on which the order has effect 6 months from the last day on which the order has effect
Driving endorsements 5 years from the date of conviction 2 years 6 months from the date of conviction
Driving disqualification When the period of the disqualification has passed When the period of the disqualification has passed
Simple caution, youth caution Spent immediately Spent immediately
Conditional caution, youth conditional caution 3 months or when caution ceases to have effect if earlier 3 months or when caution ceases to have effect if earlier
Compensation order On discharge of the order (i.e. when it is paid in full). Proof of payment will be required On discharge of the order (i.e. when it is paid in full). Proof of payment will be required
Absolute discharge Spent immediately Spent immediately
Relevant orders** (orders that impose a disqualification, disability, prohibition or other penalty) The end date given by the order or, if no date given, 2 years from the date of conviction - unless the order states ’unlimited’, ’indefinitely’ or ’until further order’ as in these cases it will remain unspent The end date given by the order or, if no date given, 2 years from the date of conviction - unless the order states ’unlimited’, ’indefinitely’ or ’until further order’ as in these cases it will remain unspent

*Suspended custodial sentences are treated the same as custodial sentences for this purpose. It will be the length of the sentence imposed by the court, not the period it is suspended for that dictates when it will become spent.

**Relevant orders include conditional discharge orders, restraining orders, hospital orders, bind overs, referral orders, care orders and any order imposing a disqualification, disability, prohibition or other penalty not mentioned in the table.

Example scenarios

What if multiple sentences were given simultaneously?

If there is more than one sentence or disposal given for an offence, or multiple offences within the same proceedings, the rehabilitation period applied to the conviction(s) will be the one with the latest date.

Example

Anthony was convicted of burglary on 1 February 2018. He received a 6 month custodial sentence and was also ordered to pay a fine of £300. Anthony was over 18 at the time of his conviction.

The rehabilitation period for the 6 month custodial sentence would end 2 years from the completion of his sentence on 1 August 2020. The rehabilitation period for the fine would end 1 year from the date of his conviction on 1 February 2019.

However, because they were both given for the same conviction, the whole conviction would not become spent until the later date of 1 August 2020.

What if there is more than one conviction?

If there is more than one conviction but the rehabilitation periods do not overlap, there is no change.

If an individual is convicted again within the rehabilitation period of another conviction, in most instances this will affect when the convictions become spent i.e. neither conviction will become spent until the rehabilitation period with the latest date has ended.

Example 1

Sandra, age 19, was convicted of theft on 20 May 2015 and received a 4 month custodial sentence. This conviction would become spent on 20 September 2017.

On 1 February 2017, she is convicted of battery and receives a 3 month suspended custodial sentence. This conviction would become spent on 1 May 2019.

Both offences will remain unspent until the later date of 1 May 2019, because she was convicted of a further offence while within the rehabilitation period of the first offence.

In this case, both convictions would be disclosed on a basic DBS certificate issued before 1 May 2019.

Example 2

Ranjit, age 32, was convicted of fraud on 20 May 2015 and received a 3 month custodial sentence. This conviction would become spent on 20 August 2017.

On 1 February 2018 he was convicted of a further offence for which he was given a fine of £200. This conviction would become spent on 1 February 2019.

Although he has been convicted of a further offence, the first conviction had reached the end of the rehabilitation period before he received the second conviction.

In this case, only the later conviction would be disclosed on a basic DBS certificate issued between 21 August 2017 and 1 February 2019.

Exceptions

When considering the impact of an offence on the rehabilitation periods of other offences, relevant orders* won’t be taken into account. They could however still be extended with reference to any other sentence that may have been passed at the same time that the order was imposed.

Example 1

On 1 August 2009, Marcus, age 26, was convicted of assault and given a 3 month suspended custodial sentence. This would become spent on 1 November 2011.

Marcus was then convicted of battery on 10 June 2011. He was sentenced to:

  • a 6 month custodial sentence
  • a restraining order until further order
  • a fine of £50

The conviction for battery will remain unspent until further notice, due to the restraining order, and will be disclosed on a basic DBS certificate.

The earlier conviction for assault will have its rehabilitation period extended until 10 December 2013, when it will become spent. This is because Marcus was convicted of the second offence during the rehabilitation period of the earlier offence, so the rehabilitation period is extended according to the rehabilitation periods for the custodial sentence and fine he received following his battery conviction.

The restraining order until further order should not be used to extend a rehabilitation period of any other offence. This applies to all relevant orders.

Example 2

Andrea, age 38, was convicted on 2 August 2015 of assaulting a supporter at a football match. As a result, she received a 4 month custodial sentence and a football banning order lasting 6 years. This conviction would become spent on 2 August 2021.

On 5 February 2018, she was convicted of criminal damage and received a fine of £100.

Although the criminal damage conviction overlaps with her first conviction it will still become spent on 5 February 2019 as it only overlaps with the football banning order.

The football banning order is a relevant order so it will not be used to extend the rehabilitation order of the second conviction.

What if one of my convictions is excluded from rehabilitation?

If you have a conviction that is excluded from rehabilitation, then previous convictions that were unspent at the time would also never be spent.

Any further convictions after the conviction which is excluded for rehabilitation however can become spent once the normal rehabilitation periods have passed.

Example 1

Darren was convicted of attempted murder on 12 September 2004. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison. This conviction will never be spent. He had 2 previous convictions:

  • 10 August 1998 - he was convicted of assault resulting in a 12 month community order and a fine. This was spent prior to the attempted murder conviction so it will not be disclosed on a basic certificate
  • 10 July 2004 - he was convicted of harassment resulting in a fine of £100 which would have become spent on 10 July 2005, however because it was unspent at the time of the attempted murder conviction it will now never be spent

Several years after his custodial sentence ended, Darren received a further conviction for a separate incident. On 7 February 2012 he was convicted of theft, resulting in a 6 month suspended sentence. This would become spent on 7 August 2014 as long as he is not convicted of a further offence during this time.

Published 28 May 2019