Prison sentence

This is part of our information section on understanding your criminal record. Details of other sentences/disposals can be found here.


Who is it issued by and how can I contact them?

A prison sentence is decided by the courts. You can contact the relevant court.

Does it involve guilt?

Yes – the sentence is decided after a guilty verdict.

Is it recorded on the Police National Computer (PNC)?


Is it classed as a conviction?


How long will it be on my record?

It will remain on the PNC until you reach 100 years of age.

When does it become spent? (over 18)

Over 4 years or a public protection sentence                              Never spent
More than 30 months and less than (or equal to) 4 years        Sentence + 7 years
More than 6 months and less than (or equal to) 30 months   Sentence + 4 years
Less than (or equal to) 6 months                                                    Sentence + 2 years

When do I have to declare it?

Before it is spent you have to declare it, when asked, by employers and financial institutions. A prison sentence falls under the protection of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act so after it is spent you don’t have to disclose unless it is for an occupation which is an exception to the Act, like working with children.

Is it disclosed on DBS checks?

A basic disclosure will show only unspent convictions. A standard or enhanced disclosure will disclose a custodial sentence even after it is spent.

What guidance is there on fair process?

  • There is CPS guidance on sentencing here

Do I have the right to appeal and what is the process?

  • First speak to your solicitor or barrister who will tell you what your chances are and help you make the appeal.
  • Ask to see the legal services officer who can help you submit the forms to the relevant court.
  • Information and guidance on the Court of Appeal can be found here
  • Justice provide advice on how to appeal
  • GOV.UK information on appealing a court decision can be found here.

What are the implications for life in the community?

Before the conviction is spent it can affect your dealing with mortgages, insurance, banking and employment. The stigma of having been in prison can also be difficult to deal with.

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