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Expungement of Criminal Record

What is a criminal record?

It is a list of all the past convictions a person may have for criminal offences.

What does it mean to expunge a criminal record?

Expungement is a procedure which results in the lawful clearance and removal of a criminal record on an individual’s record from the National Criminal Register.

Why should you have your record expunged?

Having your record expunged removes the obstacle of having one when it comes to seeking employment. Once a record is expunged it no longer exists, which means you no longer need to declare your previous convictions to possible future employers as only convictions must be declared and not arrests. This makes looking for employment easier as you have a better chance of being hired. Traveling abroad with a criminal record might also be a problem as certain countries have policies against allowing individuals with criminal records to enter the country.

Who is eligible for expungement?

The requirements for expungement are as follows;

  • There needs to be a 10-year interval between the date of conviction and the date expungement is applied for without any other convictions, fines or sentences being imposed on the applicant.
  • The crime that the applicant was convicted for needs to be a minor crime or corporal punishment. Some examples of minor crimes include theft of property not exceeding R 1500,00, possession of drugs not exceeding R 500,00, trespassing and other schedule 1 offences listed by the Criminal Procedure Act.
  • Individuals that were convicted of politically motivated crimes or individuals that were convicted based on their race qualify for expungement.
  • Individuals who’s sentencing was suspended wholly.
  • Where an accused was sentenced to correctional supervision instead of imprisonment.
  • Where the option of a fine, not exceeding R 20 000,00, was given instead of imprisonment.

There are certain circumstances under which your application will be rejected immediately, when an individual is either convicted of a sexual offence against a minor child or a person with a mental illness, when the applicant is registered on the National Registry for sex offenders or on the National Child Protection Registry they will not qualify for expungement. Where the applicant is sentenced to direct imprisonment for a serious crime, or they receive a fine exceeding R20 000,00 they also don’t qualify for expungement.

How do I apply for expungement?

  • First you will need a Police Clearance Certificate, this can be acquired from any police station.
  • After this you must fill in the application for expungement which must be submitted, along with your Police Clearance Certificate, to the Director General: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
  • After your application has been submitted the Director General will assess the application and upon being satisfied that the applicant meets all the necessary requirements, will expungement be granted.
  • This process can take up to 3 Months to be finalized