How To Clear Criminal Record In South Africa
South Africa is a country with a high crime rate. Unfortunately, many people who have been accused of a crime may find that their criminal records are affecting their future opportunities. This can include difficulties in obtaining employment or obtaining a loan, among other things. Thankfully, clearing your criminal record is possible, but it can be a complicated process. This article will explore the steps to take when clearing your criminal record in South Africa, as well as some tips and advice to help make the process as smooth as possible.
The First Step: Understand Your Criminal Record
Before you can begin the process of clearing your criminal record, it's important to have a complete understanding of the record itself. Your criminal record lists all the crimes you've been accused of, whether or not you were convicted, and the penalties you faced if convicted. This record is held by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and can be obtained by applying for a police clearance certificate.
What is a Police Clearance Certificate?
A police clearance certificate is a document that shows whether or not you have a criminal record. It also shows any pending criminal charges against you. To apply for a police clearance certificate, you'll need to visit your nearest police station with a valid form of identification. You'll also need to pay a fee for the certificate.
The Second Step: Determine Whether You're Eligible for Expungement
In South African law, expungement is the process of removing your criminal record from the SAPS database. This means that your criminal record will no longer be accessible to employers, lenders or other organizations that may check it. It's important to note that not all criminal records can be expunged. Only those who meet certain criteria will be eligible.
Who is Eligible for Expungement?
According to the South African Criminal Procedure Act, the following people may be eligible for expungement:
- Those who were convicted of a minor offense and received a fine of less than R20,000.
- Those who were convicted of a minor offense and sentenced to a period of imprisonment of less than six months.
- Those who were convicted of a minor offense and received a suspended sentence of less than six months.
If you meet one of these criteria, you may be eligible for expungement. It's important to note that if you were convicted of a serious crime, such as murder, rape or armed robbery, your criminal record cannot be expunged.
The Third Step: Apply for Expungement
If you believe you're eligible for expungement, you'll need to apply for it through the SAPS. You can do this by completing a form that is available on the SAPS website, or by visiting your nearest police station. You'll need to provide your personal information as well as details of the crime you were convicted of.
Once your application has been submitted, the SAPS will review it and determine whether you're eligible for expungement. If your application is successful, your criminal record will be expunged from the SAPS database. If not, you'll need to explore other options for clearing your criminal record.
Other Options for Clearing Your Criminal Record
If your criminal record cannot be expunged, or if you're not eligible for expungement, there are other options available to you. These include:
- Applying for a pardon: If you were convicted of a serious crime, you may be able to apply for a presidential pardon. This process is a bit more complicated than expungement and requires a formal application to be submitted to the President. The President will then review your case and make a decision about whether to grant you a pardon.
- Filing a request for removal: In some cases, it's possible to file a request with the SAPS to have your criminal record removed. This is typically only granted if there were errors or inaccuracies in your criminal record.
Clearing your criminal record in South Africa can be a complicated and time-consuming process. However, it's a necessary step for many people who want to move on with their lives and pursue new opportunities. If you think you're eligible for expungement, be sure to follow the steps outlined above and seek the advice of a qualified attorney if necessary. If you're not eligible for expungement, explore other options such as pardons or requests for removal. Whatever you choose, remember that clearing your criminal record will require patience and persistence.