How long does a criminal record last in South Africa

How long does a criminal record last in South Africa

Having a criminal record can be a heavy burden to bear, especially if the committed crime is a minor one. In this article, we answer questions like how long does a criminal record last in South Africa and how do you remove or expunge your record in addition to more related information.

criminal record
Image:, @Donald Tong
Source: UGC

After reading this article and taking the actions described, you will be able to increase your employment opportunities beyond the jobs that hire with a criminal record in South Africa. We explain what a criminal record is, how to apply for a clearance certificate, and also the costs that come with that.

What constitutes a criminal record in South Africa

According to SAPS’ Captain Thinandavha Lufhugu, a criminal record is the formal record of the offenses that you have been convicted of whether you pleaded guilty or been found guilty. If you have been found not guilty, it will not reflect on your record.

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Criminal record check South Africa

It is also known as a police clearance certificate or a certificate of good conduct. You can apply for this at your nearest SAPS police station and it costs R114,00. You will need your identification documents (ID/passport). After you complete the application form in full, they take your fingerprints, and after fifteen working days, your certificate will be ready.

criminal record check South Africa
Image:, @JJ Jordan
Source: UGC

How long does a criminal check take in South Africa

If there is no illicit activity identified, the service provider gives the applicant the report immediately. In case some unlawful activity is found, the SAPS will process the search and provide the required details regarding the illegal activity identified in three to four weeks.

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Do I have a criminal record if the charges were dropped South Africa?

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You should not. However, it is advisable to apply for a clearance certificate to be sure. There are scenarios where the charges are withdrawn.

How to clear criminal record in South Africa?

We will now look at everything you need to know about the criminal record clearance process, starting with the costs.

Removing criminal records cost

The only cost is in the application process for a police clearance certificate is R114. Applying for expungement is free and is dealt with in order of receipt.

You can opt to have a lawyer or a company to do this process for you, but that will cost you more.

What does it mean to expunge a criminal record?

To expunge a criminal record is to remove the criminal history of a convicted offender from the criminal record database of the Criminal Record Centre of the South African Police Service. They can then access opportunities like particular employment, professional certifications, visa applications, and more.

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Expungement of criminal record

For one to be eligible to have their records expunged, a period of ten years should have passed after the date of conviction. The expungement of criminal record before 10 years is unlikely to happen.

Also, the applicant should not have been convicted and sentenced to jail without the option of a fine within those ten years.

Image:, @pixabay
Source: UGC

Here are the sentences that allow for one to apply for expungement

  • Corporal punishment
  • The sentence was postponed, or the person was cautioned and discharged.
  • Fine not exceeding R20 000
  • Imprisonment with the option to pay a fine instead of serving the period of incarceration
  • Imprisonment was suspended wholly
  • Correctional supervision in terms of section 276(1)(h) of the Act
  • Imprisonment in terms of section 276(1)(i) of the Act
  • Periodical imprisonment in term of section 276(1)(c) of the Act

An applicant will not qualify in the following circumstances:

  • A period of 10 years has not elapsed after the date of the conviction.
  • A fine of more than R20,000 was imposed.
  • His or her name is included in the National Register for Sex Offenders or the National Child Protection Register, and his or her name has not been removed from the National Register for Sex Offenders or the National Child Protection Register.
  • The applicant was sentenced to direct imprisonment (the imprisonment was not suspended, and there was not the option of a fine) during the relevant ten year period.

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Expungement forms

There are some essential documents that you will need before you apply for an expungement. The first is a police clearance certificate. It should be issued ten years after the conviction(s) and sentence(s).

If you were convicted for sexual offenses, you would also need to have a confirmation that your name has been removed from the National Register for Sex Offences or the National Child Protection Register.

The completed application form (Part II and Part III), together with the attachments must be posted or delivered by hand to the

  • Director-General
  • Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
  • Postal Address: Private Bag X81, Pretoria, 0001.
  • Street Address: Pretmed Building, 319 Pretorius Street, Pretoria, 0001
expungement of criminal record
Image:, @Miguel
Source: UGC

The process takes approximately 3 months at the Director General’s office for approval. After that, it heads over to the head of the Criminal Record Centre. Thereafter, it should take a maximum of 35 working days to contact the applicant. If unsuccessful, you will be informed by post. If it is successful, you will be expunged.

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Now that you know the answer to how long does a criminal record last in South Africa, you can help those in need of this information by sharing the link to them. If you need further clarification, please refer to the SAPS website or the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development website.

DISCLAIMER: This article is intended for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice.


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Source: Briefly News

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