Expungements in South Africa

Family Law

Do you have a criminal record and need a fresh start? If a client has been convicted of an offence and a period of ten (10) years has elapsed since the date of conviction, the client did not serve any direct imprisonment and did not pay a fine of more than R20 000 and the offence was not serious, sexually related or politically motivated, then the client will qualify for an expungement. This process takes approximately 4 months to finalise and is guaranteed in South Africa, if the client meets the requirements listed above as per the Criminal Procedure Act as amended.

SDF Attorneys will assist the client in getting their fresh start by completing and submitting all of the required documentation on the client’s behalf and will also follow up with our contacts at the Department of Justice regularly to ensure that the application is being given the necessary amount of attention and to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays in the obtaining of the expungements.

SDF Attorneys charge a once off, all inclusive fee for this service. Such a fee is payable up front and will be refunded if the expungement cannot be completed for whatever reason.

Expungements – Do I Qualify?

The expungement process is a criminal record removal process which applies to convictions that meet a certain criteria and allow individuals in South Africa to have a chance at a fresh start with no criminal record.

In our law, there is unfortunately no “automatic expungement”, which means that a conviction from over 50 years ago will still need to be removed through the criminal record removal process.

The requirements that must be met before a conviction will qualify for a guaranteed expungement are listed in Section 271B (1) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 as amended. A person with a criminal record will qualify for an expungement if:

1.    A period of 10 (ten) years has lapsed since the date of conviction (not the date of the commission of the offence as some people think);

2.    The individual was not sentenced to a period of direct imprisonment or a fine of over R20 000 for the offence; and

3.    The individual has not been convicted of any other offence during that 10 (ten) year period where they were sentenced to direct imprisonment without the option of a fine for that second offence.

An individual will also fail to qualify if he or she was convicted of a sexual offence against a child or a person who is mentally disabled or of an offence where he or she was found unsuitable to work with children. Having your name included on the National Register for Sex Offenders or the National Child Protection Register will also mean that you will not qualify unless your name has since been removed from same.

The expungement process takes between 4 and 6 months from date of submission of the application, depending on the number of applications being processed by the Department of Justice at that particular time and also depending on the time of year (the applications tend to taker longer over the Festive and Easter periods). We do however do whatever we can to expedite the process and to ensure the smooth processing of your application as we are able to contact the specific Legal Administrations Officer dealing with your expungement on your behalf.

Once the expungement has been processed and approved by the Department of Justice, it must then be sent to the Criminal Record Centre in Pretoria, which is where the conviction/s qualifying for expungement are physically removed from your criminal record. The CRC will then send a letter of confirmation to us, confirming that the specific conviction/s that qualified for expungement has/have been successfully removed.

Once this is done, the individual may apply for a new Police Clearance Certificate at their nearest police station and the convictions that were expunged will no longer appear at all.

Should this sound like something that you or someone you know would be interested in, please Contact Us for further information and assistance in securing your fresh start today.