If you found yourself on the wrong side of the law when you were younger and have a criminal record it can be depressing and very challenging to find a job. Even if the offence was minor, if you were convicted and sentenced, you will have a criminal record.

BUT you can get your record ‘expunged’ – this means you can get it cleared and any record of the offence will be removed from the National Criminal Register. This is not automatic – even if you fit the criteria listed, it isn’t guaranteed that you will get the clearance and the process takes from 20 – 28 weeks. But it is definitely worth finding out! If you can, it will make looking for a job much less stressful!

To apply to get your record cleared you need to meet ALL these criteria:

1. There should be ten years between when you were convicted of an offence and the application for police clearance.

2. You have not been sentenced and jailed for any other offence during those 10 years, without the option of a fine.

3. You received a sentence where you were either imprisoned from Friday 18:00 to Sunday 18:00, or a community-based sentence.

4. You were sentenced to one of the following sentence:
• Minor crimes – for which there were minor charges.
• Politically motivated crimes; these are crimes where there is “political or ideological intention or motivation to cause harm”.

5. You were convicted under an apartheid law that is no longer in effect.

Some sentences can never be expunged!
• Sexual offences against a child or person who is mentally disabled
• An offence that has made you unsuitable to work with children
• If you are on the national register for sex offenders, or on the national child protection register

View the full list of criteria on the SAPS website HERE.

How to apply to have your record cleared:
1. To apply you will need to get a police clearance certificate from the Criminal Record Centre of the South African Police Service. This is to confirm the details and date of the offence. You will need to go to a police station to do this. Click here to view FunDza’ blog on ‘How to get a Police Clearance Certificate’.

2. Once you have the police clearance certificate you can complete the application for ‘expungement’. Fill in the forms and attach all the necessary documents – the police clearance certificate MUST be attached! Post the forms or deliver them to the address on the application forms. You will be notified in writing by the Head of the Criminal Record Centre if your convictions and sentences have been cleared (this takes 20 – 28 weeks). Find the application forms by clicking HERE.

There are organisations that you can find online that can help you to get your record cleared, but they may ask you for payment!

It is important that you don’t lie about not having a criminal record, as employers can easily find out the truth. But don’t then give up and think you have no hope. Rather come clean and explain why, despite this record, you are still suitable for the job.

If you ARE eligible to clear your criminal record then do it now! Don’t let your past hold you back from finding a job in the future.