What is a conditional discharge?

When you are convicted of a criminal offence, it is up to the judge to sentence you.

One of the options open to them is a conditional discharge. This can be offered on less serious crimes but will never be offered where the crime has a mandatory minimum sentence. A full list of crimes excluded can be found on the Government website.

Conditional discharges come with a probation period of up to three years. During this time, you must adhere to certain conditions, typically lasting between six months and two years. These conditions may include maintaining the peace, completing community service, or agreeing to a ban on weapons or firearms.

If you comply with these conditions for the duration specified by the judge, you will be permanently discharged.

A conditional discharge does not preclude the judge from ordering you to pay a fine as part of the conviction.

How long can a conditional discharge last?

This will be decided by the judge but can last up to 3 years

What happens if I reoffend whilst on a conditional discharge?

If a further offence is committed during this period, you can be re-sentenced for the original offence, as well as being sentenced for the new offence.

Is it disclosed on DBS checks and does it appear on my criminal record?

During the period of the Conditional Discharge the conviction will appear on your criminal record and therefore show up on all DBS checks. Once you have completed the period of time confirmed by the judge it then becomes ‘spent’. At this point it will no longer show up on your criminal record.

You only need to tell a potential employer about a spent conviction if all of the following apply:

  • they ask you to – there are rules on what they can request which you can check here.
  • they tell you that the role needs a standard or enhanced DBS check – this will be for certain roles especially when working with children
  • it’s not removed (filtered) from DBS certificates) – this is specific list of crimes which can be found on the Government website

It’s against the law for an employer to deny you a position due to a spent conviction or caution, unless it makes you unsuitable for the role. For instance, a driving conviction might render you unsuitable for a driving instructor position.

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