Skip to content Skip to main menu Skip to utility menu

Rehabilitation of offenders

Every conviction has a rehabilitation period attached. The rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 decides the length of these periods.

During the rehabilitation period, your conviction is called ‘unspent’ and you always need to tell an employer about it when asked. When the period is over, your conviction is called ‘spent’ and you may not need to tell an employer about it anymore.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that once you’ve finished your time in prison or on probation, your offence is spent. This only happens when your rehabilitation period ends.

The rehabilitation period depends on the sentence not the nature of the crime nor whether it was suspended or not. you’ll have to disclose criminal convictions immediately after you’ve been found guilty. But in most cases your rehabilitation period begins when your sentence ends.

Look at the table below and remember that rehabilitation periods often change if you have more than one conviction.


Disposal (sentence)Rehabilitation period (convicted age 18 and over)Rehabilitation period (convicted age 17 and under)
Compensation orderN/AOnce the payment is made in full
Referral orderN/AUpon completion of order
Absolute dischargeNoneN/A
Conditional dischargeUpon completion of orderN/A
Fine1 year from date of conviction6 months from date of conviction
Community Order, Probation Order or Youth Rehabilitation Order1 year from end of order6 months from end of order
Prison 6 months or less2 years from end of sentence1 ½ years from end of sentence
Prison >6-30 months4 years from end of sentence2 years from end of sentence
Prison >30-48 months7 years from end of sentence3 ½ years from end of sentence
Prison >48 monthsNever spentNever spent