Can I avoid a criminal record?

Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal or traffic offence the Court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. In this case, you will have a criminal record. In traffic matters you might also lose your license. However, if your lawyer was able to convince the Court not to convict you (Section 10 order), there would be no penalty, no loss of licence, and no criminal record. In all Criminal and Traffic Law cases a Court has the discretion not to convict you but deal with you under the terms of section 10.

What is a "section 10" ?

The expression "section 10" refers to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. This section allows a Court that finds you guilty of an offence, to discharge you without recording a conviction. Because there is no conviction, there is no criminal record. Additionally, there is no loss of drivers’ license and no other penalty.

Applying for a section 10

Courts do not give out section 10’s easily. They take a lot of persuading before granting you a section 10. The Crimes and Sentencing Act says that in deciding whether to give a person a section 10, the Court must consider the following issues:

1.       Your age, character, record, health and mental condition.

2.       The trivial nature of the offence.

3.       Any extenuating circumstances

4.       Anything else the Court think is relevant.

Quality Legal Advice from Austin Haworth & Lexon Legal (AHL Legal)

Section 10 is perhaps the best known section in the whole of the Criminal Law, as the benefits are massive. Unfortunately, section 10 is also perhaps the most widely known and misunderstood law. To avoid misinformation, it is in your best interests to obtain proper legal advice if you find yourself in such a situation. Austin Haworth & Lexon Legal (AHL Legal) is a firm that has achieved a lot of leading precedents, and has reliable criminal lawyers to assist you. Our criminal lawyers have access to sentencing statistics for all offences and can tell you what proportion of people who plead guilty to your offence receive a section 10.