Moving on: The impact of court orders

This month, we’ve written a further article for InsideTime ‘Through the Gate’ Section which provides information on how court orders can impact on the time it takes for your conviction to become spent.

A copy of the article can be found below:

In addition to your prison sentence, convictions for certain types of offences could also result in your receiving an accompanying ancillary order. These orders include things like confiscation orders, compensation orders, restraining orders and sexual offences prevention orders (SOPO).

The purpose of these orders can be to redress the harm that has been caused, for example a compensation order, whilst others aim to prevent re-offending or repeat victimisation, such as restraining orders.

However, it’s fair to say that these types of orders can have a devastating impact on your life long after you’ve left prison. This may be because of the prohibitions that they impose (for example not being able to visit certain areas) but also because, as long as they are in force, your conviction cannot be spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. For example, a compensation order is only regarded as spent once it’s been paid in full.

If you were given an indefinite order, then this will never be spent until such a time as you’ve gone back to court to request that it is discharged. Additionally, it will also mean that any other disposal given at the same time will also never be spent.

For example: Robert was convicted of ‘stalking’. He was given a 2-month prison sentence, which would usually be spent two years from the end of his sentence. However, in addition to the prison sentence, Robert was given an indefinite restraining order, meaning his conviction would never be spent until the order was revoked or amended.

All the time your conviction is unspent, you will need to disclose it, if asked, when applying for jobs, university courses or purchasing an insurance policy. This means you could effectively end up disclosing for life something that was a relatively minor offence. If an employer carried out a formal criminal record check, your conviction would always show up.

Whatever order you’ve been given, there is legislation in place that allows you to request a hearing to have it varied or discharged. By varying an order, the court may decide to remove some of the more onerous conditions or add a date upon which the order should come to an end.

In most cases, you would need to apply in writing to the court in which the order was given stating that you wish to have your order varied/discharged. Your application should explain how your circumstances have changed since the original order was made and the reason why you believe it should be amended or revoked.

If you’ve been given an order that relates to the payment of monies, such as a compensation order or confiscation order, then your conviction would not be spent until you’ve paid all outstanding money in full.

Unfortunately, no record is kept on the Police National Computer of when compensation/confiscation orders are paid. Therefore, it’s important that you obtain proof of payment from the court as this will usually be needed by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) when processing a request for a basic criminal record check. Remember to send the receipt to the DBS along with your application form as without it, you may find that the DBS will disclose your spent conviction on your basic DBS certificate.

If you feel that the conditions on your order are too restrictive, or your order has no end date, then it’s certainly worth considering applying to the court to have it varied or discharged completely.

Many people who’ve gone through the process have found that a successful outcome has made a significant difference to their quality of life and their ability to secure employment or college/university courses.

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Debbie Sadler