Aim of this page
This page sets out the rehabilitation periods for current sentences and disposals as well as some historic sentences/disposals.
It’s part of our information on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.
Why is this important?
When changes were made to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act in March 2014, the time it took for some sentences and disposals to become spent changed.
It’s important to know if, and when, your conviction becomes spent before you start applying for jobs, purchasing financial products etc so that you only disclose what you are legally required to.
A-Z of current sentences/disposals
Below is a long list of current sentences and disposals, with the length of time they take to become spent (known as the ‘rehabilitation period’).
This list builds on a poster that we have with the main sentences, and adds to the detailed guide on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, which should be read alongside this list. Please also read the notes that are below the table.
- Attendance centre order – Spent immediately
- Absolute discharge – Spent immediately
- Bind over – Length of the order
- Care order – Length of the order
- *Community order (e.g. ‘probation’) (see note 3 & 11) – Length of the order + 1 year (Length of the order + 6 months)
- Compensation order (see note 4) – When paid in full
- Conditional caution / Conditional youth caution – 3 months or when it ends, if earlier (3 months)
- Conditional discharge (see note 11) – Length of the order
- Confiscation order (see note 11) – Length of the order
- Court costs (see note 5) – Doesn’t impact on the time it takes for a conviction to become spent
- Criminal behaviour order (see note 11) – Length of the order
- Disqualification order (see note 6 & 11) – Length of the order
- Endorsement (imposed by a court) – 5 years (2 ½ years)
- Extended Sentences – These are treated the same as prison sentence (see below.) Therefore, if the custodial sentence plus the extended licence period is over 4 years, then it’s never spent.
- Financial reporting order (see note 11) – Length of the order
- Fine (see note 7) – 1 year (6 months)
- Football banning order (see note 11) – Length of the order
- Forfeiture order (see note 11) – Length of the order (although see note 11 below)
- Hospital order (with or without restrictions) (see note 8 & 11) – Length of the order
- *Prison sentence (see note 9)
Less than (or equal to) 6 months – Sentence + 2 years (Sentence + 18 months)
More than 6 months and less than (or equal to) 30 months – Sentence + 4 years (Sentence + 2 years)
More than 30 months and less than (or equal to) 4 years – Sentence + 7 years (Sentence + 3 ½ years) Over 4 years ( or a public protection sentence) (see note 10) – Never spent
- Referral order (see note 11) – Length of the order
- Relevant order (see note 11) – Length of the order
- Reparation order (see note 11) – Spent immediately
- Restraining order (see note 11) – Length of the order
- Serious crime prevention order (see note 11) – Length of the order
- Sexual harm prevention order (see note 11) – Length of the order
- Sexual notification order – Doesn’t impact on the time it takes for a conviction to become spent
- Sexual offence prevention order (see note 11) – Length of the order
- Simple caution / youth caution – Spent immediately
- *Suspended prison sentence (see note 12) – Same as ‘Prison sentence’ above
- Victim surcharge – Doesn’t impact on the time it takes for a conviction to become spent
- In the table, the time starts from the date of conviction (unless indicated with a * – see below) and relate to adults – if it’s different for those under 18, this is detailed in brackets.
- Those marked with an * (asterix) do not necessarily start from the date of conviction. Prison sentences, suspended sentences and community orders have a rehabilitation period which is made up of the original sentence, plus an additional fixed period. For these, you normally start from the date the sentence started (which is not always the same as the date of conviction), work to the end of the full sentence, then add the further fixed period.
- If the order is subsequently changed, this will not affect the rehabilitation period. The buffer period starts from the last day of when the order given by the court has effect. A community order or youth rehabilitation order which has no specific end date has a default rehabilitation period of two years from the date of conviction. Changes made in 2012/13 mean that all future community orders have an end date.
- These are only regarded as spent once they are paid in full. Unfortunately, there is no record kept on the Police National Computer that compensation orders are paid, and this is what Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) see when they process basic checks. As a result, it is important that you obtain proof of payment of the compensation order from the court and keep this document to prove it has been paid in full. This may be needed by the DBS when processing a basic check before they would regard it as ‘spent’ and so not disclose it. It should be noted that the DBS will treat a compensation order as being paid in full if (1) it was for an amount of less than £100 or (2) it is over 6 years old. Further information about relevant orders can be found at note 11.
- Court costs are not regarded as fines, and do not have their own rehabilitation period. They are given alongside other “disposals”, which attract rehabilitation periods in their own right.
- These include being disqualified from being a company director. Motoring disqualifications will normally come with an Endorsement, which is likely to be longer.
- Fines become spent regardless of whether they are paid or not. The rehabilitation period for a fine applies even if you are later imprisoned for default of the fine. Fines as a result of fixed penalty notices (FPN) and penalty notices for disorder (PND) are not covered by the Act as they do not form part of your criminal record so they don’t have a rehabilitation period.
- These relate to those issued under the Mental Health Act 1983.
- The term ‘prison sentence’ includes suspended prison sentences, detention in a young offender institution, detention under s.91 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000, detention and training orders, youth custody, corrective training and borstal training
- This includes imprisonment for life, sentence of preventive detention, sentence of detention during Her Majesty’s pleasure or for life, imprisonment for public protection, detention for public protection, extended sentences of imprisonment or detention for public protection and extended determinate sentences for dangerous offenders.
- These are often known as ‘ancillary orders’ (see CPS detailed guidance on ancillary orders and the CPS long list of orders) that are given alongside other sentences. Some orders are aimed at redressing some harm caused by an offender, e.g. compensation orders. Others aim to prevent future re-offending or repeat victimisation, e.g.restraining orders or sexual harm prevention orders. These orders can run for longer than the rehabilitation period of the other sentences issued by the court which means that the conviction can remain unspent for longer than was initially thought. The term ‘relevant order’ is used in Ministry of Justice guidance, and refers to orders such as conditional discharges, bind overs and referral orders. It also includes restraining orders and sexual harm prevention orders (SHPO). See below for more information on when relevant orders become spent. Some ancillary orders (i.e. sexual notification orders) are civil orders which have no impact on the time it takes for a conviction to become spent.
- The rehabilitation period is based on the length of the prison sentence that would have been imposed, not the length it was suspended for. The ‘buffer’ period starts from the end of the prison sentence. For example, if you received a 12 month suspended sentence in January 2014 (suspended for 2 years), the buffer period would be 4 years, starting from January 2015. The conviction would become spent in January 2019.
When does a ‘relevant order’ become spent?
As note 11 above references, relevant orders are known as ancillary orders.
While there is no definitive list of relevant orders, in this context we believe it includes most ancillary orders, including compensation orders, criminal behaviour orders, driving disqualifications, forfeiture orders, confiscation orders, football banning orders, company director disqualification orders and sexual harm prevention orders. .
Essentially, a conviction cannot become spent until the order ends. Some orders run for many years longer than the ‘main’ sentence.
If someone received a 4 month prison sentence, this would be spent 2 years after the end of the full sentence. But if they receive a 5 year SHPO, the conviction will not become spent until the 5 year SHPO has ended.
Essentially, where the order remains in force “until further order”, this will remain in place until you return to court to have it varied or ceased, so it will be regarded as unspent indefinitely.
Example – For a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) that is deemed to be in place “until further order”, the conviction attached to the SOPO cannot become spent until the case goes back to court and the SHPO amended accordingly.
It’s also important to note that while a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) is a relevant order, being subject to sex offender notification requirements (i.e. being on the sex offenders register) is not treated as a relevant order and has no impact on when the conviction becomes spent.
Relevant orders only relate to the conviction that they’re linked to, they don’t ‘drag through’ other convictions.
Example – Marcus was convicted of assault on 1 August 2009 when he was 26 and received a 3 month suspended sentence. This would become spent on 1 November 2011.
On 10 June 2011, he was convicted of battery and sentenced to:
- a 6 month custodial sentence
- a restraining order until further notice
- a fine for £50
The 2011 conviction would remain unspent until further notice, due to the restraining order. His earlier conviction in 2009 would have it’s rehabilitation period extended until 10 December 2013 due to the custodial sentence Marcus received in 2011. However, the rehabilitation period would not be affected by the restraining order.
Where the order has an immediate effect or has a specific lifespan that hasn’t been quantified, the order becomes spent 2 years from when it was given.
For example, a forfeiture order would become spent 2 years from when it was given.
Note – a “community order with an unpaid work requirement only” also fits into the 2 year category above, but these cases are very rare and do not happen now. If you think this applies to you, we would recommend that you check with Probation and/or get a copy of your police record.
Historic sentences and disposals
The list below is of sentences/disposals that have been replaced in some way with those mentioned above. If you have received one of these in the past, you may need to use the list above to work out if/when they are spent.
- Anti-social behaviour order – Refer to ‘Relevant order’ above
- Action plan order – Refer to ‘Youth Rehabilitation order’ above
- Approved school order – Refer to ‘Community order / Youth rehabilitation order’ above
- Borstal training sentence – Refer to ‘Prison sentence’ above
- Combination order – Refer to ‘Community order / Youth rehabilitation order’ above
- Community punishment order – Refer to ‘Community order / Youth rehabilitation’ order above
- Community punishment and rehabilitation order – Refer to ‘Community order / Youth rehabilitation order’ above
- Community service order – Refer to ‘Community order / Youth rehabilitation order’ above
- Curfew order – Refer to ‘Community order / Youth rehabilitation order’ above
- Detention and training order – Refer to ‘Prison sentence’ above
- Disqualification from working with children (under the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000) – Does not affect the rehabilitation period associated with the conviction (see section 38 of the Act)
- Drug treatment and testing order – Refer to ‘Community order / Youth rehabilitation order’ above
- Final warning – Refer to ‘Youth caution’ above
- Probation order – Refer to ‘Community order’ above
- Reception order – Refer to ‘Relevant order’ above
- Reprimand – Refer to ‘Youth caution’ above
- Secure training order – Refer to ‘Prison sentence’ above
- Supervision order – Refer to ‘Youth rehabilitation order’ above
- Youth custody order – Refer to ‘Prison sentence’ above
Can’t find your sentence/disposal?
If a sentence/disposal is not explicitly covered in the above tables, it is likely not to have a rehabilitation period and so will become spent immediately (unless it is attached to another sentence/disposal which does have a rehabilitation period). This follows the guidance that is given in the Ministry of Justice guidance.
However, there are some old sentences/orders that are not directly covered in the MoJ guidance, but it doesn’t mean they have no rehabilitation period, because they’re now treated as other orders. This applies where the order is given at the point of conviction. Some of these are listed in the tables above.
If you can’t find your sentence or disposal listed above, and you want to know when it would become spent, please contact us.
If you’ve spotted a sentence or disposal that’s missing from either of the lists above, please let us know.
Discuss this with others
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Key sections include:
Below you will find links to useful websites relating to this page. More specific details (including addresses and telephone number) of some of the organisations listed below can be found here.
- For practical information – More information on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and Applying to a court to end a court date
- To discuss this with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
- Our policy work – Read about the policy work we’re doing on this issue, pushing for further reform of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
- Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline.
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Learn more about this topic
- Working in the healthcare sector
- Sexual offence convictions: what you need to know
- Which cautions and convictions will be removed from a standard or enhanced DBS? – A brief guide
- Criminal records that don’t show (stay) on standard and enhanced DBS checks (filtering and protected cautions and convictions)
- Settled status: what you need to know if you are an EU citizen and have a criminal record