Delay with record expungement

All Woman

Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I'm having a big problem getting my record expunged. It involves an assault incident from 1996. The judge fined both of us; I paid $200. I went to get a police record and I've sent in my application from January last year, and it's still not ready. Every time I call the Ministry of Justice they tell me that they are waiting on the police report. I've tried to obtain a visa several times and got turned down because I didn't know that I had a record. My son is going to graduate from the US military soon and I would like to attend.

I cannot understand why your application seems to be stagnating. It could be that you have failed to provide some necessary fact or document which you should have done with your application, or during the process.

From the contents of your letter, I believe that you may not have provided the police with a certified copy of your conviction from the court in which you were convicted, and it seems that you have gone to the ministry to enquire, but not to the police at the Criminals Records Office. You should go and check with them about the reason for their delay in communicating with the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Board, their conclusions.

It seems clear to me that the blockage or problem is in the records office, because the board cannot make its decision whether to expunge or not without communication from the police that your sentence was completed at a certain date and that the expiration of the statutory rehabilitation period for the offence and sentence had expired, and you have had no further convictions since then.

The statutory requirements for every application are that they should be in writing, and should state the applicant's full name and age; the offence for which he/she was convicted, and the sentence imposed by the court for that conviction. It should also have the date and place of the conviction (city/town); the court before which the conviction was made; the date on which the applicant completed serving the sentence (in your case, it would be when you paid your fine in full) and in relation to this, if any condition was attached in the sentence when it was complied with and the extent of the completion of the condition. Then it should have the date from which the conviction was treated as a spent conviction and the date from which, due to the expiration of the rehabilitation period, the applicant became eligible to make the application, and any other written representation in support of the application the applicant relies.

And finally, it assists the process if you add a certified document from the court of your trial and conviction and sentence, giving all the facts of the charge against you, the trial dates, whether it was on a guilty plea or after a trial on evidence that you were convicted, the sentence, that you paid the fine imposed fully, and the date of such payment.

Since it is 25 years since your conviction and both you and the complainant were fined $200 each, it is clear that the court concluded that it was not a serious offence and that both parties were at fault, and that the rehabilitation period expired many years ago. The question remains whether you provided all the information that you ought to in your application, considering that your conviction occurred 25 years ago. The conclusions of the investigation must be clear in order for the board to be satisfied that your are rehabilitated.

The Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders)Act requires the board to also inform in writing, all persons who have made applications like yours of the outcome of their application. If your application is rejected you can appeal to the Minister of Justice within 60 days from the date of the rejection, or any longer period the minister permits.

I hope that I have assisted you so that you can pursue the course of your application and do a checklist to be sure that you have provided all that you are required to provide.

Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.

DISCLAIMER:

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.

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