The expungement process

Dear Mrs Macaulay,

Do you have any idea how long it takes for an expungement to be processed in Jamaica?

I cannot tell you how long an expungement takes to be completed in Jamaica as in my experience, each application takes the time needed to complete each one.

The ones which I have done over the years were completed in different periods of time. I can, however, say that you also have some responsibility for whatever the prescribed period is for the completion of an application for an expungement; you can affect it positively or negatively. By this I mean that if your application is not correctly completed and it does not have all the required documents attached, then time would be wasted because after it is checked, it would have to be returned to you to correct any and all erroneous content(s), with a request for you to correct it and resubmit it and that you include any document which you should have attached. And as you must be aware, public offices are not known for being swift with their replies.

Therefore, if your application is incorrect in any particular, you would, by such an act, extend the time which your application would take to be dealt with and concluded satisfactorily.

I would, therefore, suggest that you obtain the services of an attorney-at-law, who, by following the provisions of the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act 1988 as amended by Act No 12 of 2014, would draw up your application correctly. She or he would also ensure, from the provisions of the Act, that you obtain and deliver all the documents which the Act provides must accompany your application to the board. Your application would therefore have a better chance of being dealt with after its receipt and go through all the processes and the considerations of the board in a timely manner. This you must ensure in order to have the expungement of any criminal records to be completed in a reasonable time.

The process of applying to expunge criminal records is to obtain the documents, which the Act provides, that must accompany the application to the board. If I may remind you, these are proof of your charge, court and courtroom of your trial, the dates of your trial, the verdict and the sentence and the dates of these. If your sentence was a fine which was imposed on you, you must produce documentary proof of what the sum was and that you paid all of it. If you were sentenced to serve a term in prison, you must produce documentary proof of the term which was imposed on you and that you served the legal period of your sentence. You must also apply for and produce your criminal record, which you should apply for in good time.

The Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act contains all the information necessary to enable the completion of a correctly completed application. It states everything you need to put and deal with in your application, but I have suggested that you retain an attorney to prepare it for you because it is a legal document and some of its relevant provisions need the knowledge and experience of someone for interpreting the legal provisions to clearly understand and advise you whether or not your conviction has been spent and whether your period of rehabilitation for your respective sentence had expired or not, to enable you to be entitled to apply to have your criminal record be expunged.

As you will agree, there will be no point in applying if your conviction is not spent and if your rehabilitation period as enacted has not yet expired. You need a lawyer to assist you with this, and if you are entitled to apply, then you should have good assistance to complete the application for you throughout the entire process.

I hope that I have assisted you so that you have a better idea of the law and process.

All the very best and good luck.

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; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.


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.

Margarette MACAULAY

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