Getting rid of a criminal record

What happens if you committed a petty offence (like shoplifting) and you want to clear your name?

The act that applies is the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977, that provides that your criminal record can be ‘expunged’ from the records of the Criminal Records Centre after ten years have elapsed from the date of conviction of that offence, if:

  • Your petty theft conviction relates to a sentence of a fine only, under R20,000.
  • You have not committed another offence (that entails a prison sentence without the option of a fine) during the ten-year period.

This is the process to get your sentence expunged:

  • You obtain a clearance certificate from your police station to show that ten years have elapsed, after the conviction and sentencing;
  • Send the forms to the Director-General for Justice and Constitutional Development, who will issue a Certificate of Expungement, if you meet the required criteria;
  • The Certificate of Expungement is sent to the head of the Criminal Records Centre of the SAPS, ordering the criminal record to be expunged.

I suggest that you get proper legal advice, to make sure you complete the correct form and follow the right procedure.

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