Many legal minds making NZ LAW work

We are an association of independent legal practices, proactively sharing ideas and expertise for the benefit of our clients.

Wiping the slate clean

Published: 9th April 2019

Author: Tanya Surrey, Mactodd

Published in: Fineprint 78

The seven year itch
The Clean Slate Act or clean slate scheme, more formally and correctly known as the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004, became law almost 15 years ago. The rationale behind the legislation was to enable people who had certain convictions to put their past behind them without the stigma of a permanent conviction. Having a criminal record can have far-reaching consequences for employment, immigration, voluntary work and various other matters.

What the legislation means
The Clean Slate Act limits the effect of convictions if certain criteria are satisfied. If it has been seven years since you were convicted, you will be considered to have no criminal record and can state this to anyone who asks.

Before you can be considered to be ‘clean-slated’, however, you must have:

• No convictions within the last seven years
• Never received a custodial sentence
• Never been convicted of a specified offence such as sexual offending against young children
• Never been indefinitely banned from driving
• Never been held in hospital by the court in a criminal case due to your mental state, and
• Paid any fine, compensation, reparation or other monetary penalty ordered by a court in sentencing.

Section 14 of the Clean Slate Act expressly states that when asked, you can state that you have no criminal record if you are eligible under the legislation. The application of the Clean Slate Act is automatic (you don’t have to apply) and, once ‘clean slated’, your criminal record should show no convictions.

Your conviction record will not, however, be completely removed from police records. It is, however, an offence for an employer or anyone else to ignore the legislation and require you to declare convictions that have been subject to the clean slate scheme. Anyone who requires disclosure of ‘clean slate’ convictions can be fined up to $10,000.

It is also an offence for any government employee to disclose your full criminal record when it has been concealed. The maximum penalty for that is a fine of up to $20,000.

It’s worth noting that all your convictions will be reinstated on your record if you are convicted again or if you do not pay any court-ordered fines, compensation or costs, or if you are permanently banned from driving.

Exceptions
There are a number of exceptions in the clean slate regime. If you are eligible under the Clean Slate Act to have your conviction/s ‘removed’, you must still declare all convictions if you apply for a job in a national security role, as a police employee, prison or probation officer or security officer or as a judge, Justice of the Peace or Community Magistrate.

The relevant government departments can disclose your criminal record in other situations. These include applications for firearms licences, when it may be relevant to other court proceedings, or if you apply for a role involving the care and protection of young people and for the purpose of an investigation under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.

When travelling overseas, the immigration form often asks if you have any convictions. Before you depart, we recommend you check the situation with the embassy of the country to which you are travelling.

A recent situation
In a recent case, D v New Zealand Police the High Court wiped the criminal record of a convicted sex offender to allow D to obtain work in a rest home. D had historic convictions for sexual offences against a 12-year-old boy. (The Clean Slate Act does not allow convictions for sexual offending to be wiped after seven years.) D had applied to the District Court for an order concealing his criminal record. The application was declined and D appealed the decision.

The High Court considered that D would be highly unlikely to gain employment in the aged care sector unless his criminal record was concealed. After considering D’s remorse, and the evidence of expert witnesses regarding the risk of reoffending, the appeal was upheld. D’s criminal record was cleared.

Your own record
Anyone can apply to the Ministry of Justice for a copy of their criminal and traffic history. This is helpful if you are applying for a job where convictions, or the lack of them, is important. It may be detrimental to withhold relevant information, particularly if you have misunderstood whether any offending has been wiped. In a job application, it would be awkward to assume you have been ‘clean slated’ if this is not the case and any convictions come to light in background checks.

The Clean Slate Act has been useful in allowing people to put the past behind them without the taint of a criminal record. However, you can’t always escape the past.

When the clean slate legislation was enacted in 2004, social media and Google were in their infancy. Even with a clear criminal record resulting from the regime, details of your past may be found online or on social media channels.

Related Articles

  • Auckland
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Canterbury
  • Coromandel
  • Gisborne
  • Hawke's Bay
  • Kapiti Coast
  • Manawatu - Wanganui
  • Marlborough
  • Nelson
  • Northland
  • Otago
  • Southland
  • Taranaki
  • Waikato
  • Wairarapa
  • Wellington
  • West Coast

Lowndes Jordan

Lowndes Jordan is a top niche law firm committed to service excellence, achieved through our dedication to understanding our clients' individual needs and requirements, developing tailored solutions and following through to ensure results are delivered.

Our commitment to quality is supported by being the first ISO 9001 certified law firm in New Zealand.

Lowndes Jordan has access to some of the nation's foremost legal and business advisory experts, allowing us to provide a full range of inputs to assist you in meeting your objectives.

We serve a wide range of clients including listed companies, multinationals, privately held companies, entrepreneurs and business individuals.

All clients have direct access to specialist partners and client service teams comprised of senior practitioners.

Region: Auckland

Phone: 09 309 2500

Kaimai Law Limited

Kaimai Law Bethlehem has been based in Bethlehem, Tauranga for nearly a decade, and our new office at The Lakes opened in March 2017.  The majority of lawyers in our professional team at Kaimai Law Bethlehem & Kaimai Law The Lakes has 10 to 30+ years of experience in their respective fields, which means that they have the knowledge required to give you legal advice you can trust. 

Kaimai Law Bethlehem & Kaimai Law The Lakes specialise in all property matters including conveyancing, finance and subdivisions, as well as family law, commercial law, estate planning, estate administration, trusts, wills, employment law and relationship property. Kaimai Law Bethlehem & The Lakes are your one stop law shops in Tauranga.

Region: Bay of Plenty

Phone: 07 579 3316

Parry Field Lawyers

With expertise in a wide variety of legal matters, Parry Field has developed a reputation for providing high quality legal advice and services in a timely fashion.

With offices in Riccarton, Hokitika and Rolleston Parry Field like to cover all bases.

Region: Canterbury

Phone: 03 348 8480

Purnell Lawyers

There is nothing as inevitable as change. Since opening for business early last century, we at Purnell Lawyers have seen many changes both in name and in the people who have made up the members of our team. We have been privileged to have served the public throughout all of these times. 

We are confident that we will continue to bring top quality legal services to our clients well into the future.

Region: Coromandel

Phone: 07 868 8680

Woodward Chrisp

At Woodward Chrisp we strive to meet the needs of our clients by providing a wide range of high quality legal services within a supportive and collaborative environment.

Woodward Chrisp is the amalgamation of two long established Gisborne legal firms: Woodward Iles & Co and Chrisp and Chrisp. Today’s partners are Ross Revington, Adam Simperingham and Jeff Allen.

Region: Gisborne

Phone: 06 869 0900

Gifford Devine

For all life’s matters, the team at Gifford Devine have your back. Since 1896, our lawyers have been providing straight-talking, practical advice and advocacy to people, families and businesses in Hawke’s Bay.

As your legal champions, we’ll serve you as a trusted adviser, listen to your needs, offer plain English advice, and find a solution to get you the best possible outcome.

We have the expertise to identify potential legal issues, to help you make important decisions, and to realise your goals. We’re your legal champions for all reasons and at all stages of life.

Region: Hawke's Bay

Phone: 06 873 0420

Breaden McCardle Lawyers

Breaden McCardle Lawyers is the largest full service legal practice in the Kapiti Region.

We are here to help you and pride ourselves on providing practical, solutions based advice to clients in an approachable and straightforward manner.

Region: Kapiti Coast

Phone: 04 296 1105

Dorrington Poole

Dorrington Poole Lawyers has a long tradition in Dannevirke and was founded in 1914 by Percy Dorrington. The firm still acts for families of some of the earliest clients. The long term relationship with those clients gives continuity in a fast changing world.

The firm provides quality legal services within New Zealand for its rural, commercial and private clients. We provide services for clients not only in the Southern Hawkes Bay/Tararua area but also throughout the country.

Region: Manawatu - Wanganui

Phone: 06 374 7089

Wain & Naysmith

Based in Blenheim, Wain & Naysmith Lawyers is a full service law firm, and a powerhouse for property, family and business law.

We pride ourselves in providing clear and cost effective legal solutions and practical advice for you, your family and your business.

Region: Marlborough

Phone: 03 520 6103

Knapps Lawyers

As a firm, we promise to look after you and treat you in a manner that we would expect to be treated by a professional services provider; we promise to use every available legal remedy available to us to resolve your issue and to do what you ask us to do in a timely manner.

We will hold in strict confidence all information that we acquire through our work for you and which concerns your business or personal information.  The only exceptions are where you authorise us to disclose such information or where we must do so by law.

Region: Nelson

Phone: 03 544 7888

Law North Limited

We pride ourselves on being a "general store" for most legal issues but also have several in-house experts in specialised areas including trusts, relationship property, business and property law.  No matter what your issue is - whether you are looking for trusted legal advisers to steer you through life, or you have a one-off problem to sort out - we would be pleased to help.

Law North Ltd provides a broad range of legal services across the Far North district from our base in Kerikeri.   We have operated in the area for over 100 years and have a long-standing history of providing legal services to a diverse client base, including businesses and private clients.   Our directors and their families have been part of the Bay of Islands community for several generations and remain committed to the area and its people.  We often call upon strong local knowledge to resolve issues for clients whilst remaining vigilant about client confidentiality.

Region: Northland

Phone: 09 407 7099

Sumpter Moore

Sumpter Moore is based in South Otago and has a proud history of having provided a broad range of legal services to personal clients and businesses since 1873. Generations of families have been able to rely on our advice and assistance, because Sumpter Moore has stood behind that advice for over 100 years.

Sumpter Moore has fully serviced offices in both Balclutha and Milton, our relatively small size means we can work closely with our clients and you know who will be personally responsible for your legal affairs. It allows us to have close control over the quality and timeliness of the advice you receive.

Region: Otago

Phone: 03 418 0066

Cruickshank Pryde

We are proud to provide a full suite of legal services to the regions of Southland and Central Otago. With our offices, located in Invercargill, Gore and Queenstown, equipped with the latest modern technology, we can service wider New Zealand and international clients with ease. Our areas of expertise include commercial, rural, business, employment, family, criminal, property, resource management and estate planning law.

Region: Southland

Phone: 03 214 4069

RMY Legal

Having been a cornerstone in the New Plymouth and Taranaki legal community since the 1930s we offer in-depth knowledge coupled with legal expertise and always put the needs of you and your business at the heart of what we do.

Not only do we offer a first class service to clients throughout Taranaki, we are passionate about what we do and our success stems from delivering advice in clear and understandable terms.

Region: Taranaki

Phone: 06 769 8080

Lamb Bain Laubscher

The firm advises clients on a regional and national level, regularly meeting with clients throughout New Zealand at their places of business or residence. Building on the experience of its members, the firm has forged a successful relationship with its clients, and in some cases act for and advise three generations of the same family.

The firm seeks to create innovative and advantageous solutions based on their knowledge and experience and a keen appreciation of each clients individual circumstances.

The firm has modern internal systems and an infrastructure which enables direct and efficient means of service to clients. There is an emphasis on building strong relationships with our clients and providing a personalised service.

Region: Waikato

Phone: 07 878 1011

Gawith Burridge

Gawith Burridge traces its history back to 1875 when Charles Gawith first set up his practice. Since then the firm has undergone many changes, including a merger between Gawith & Co and Burridge & Co in 1998 to form our current practice.

Our firm draws on the breadth of expertise available from some of the region’s most senior legal practitioners, as well as the skills of those who have moved here from larger corporate environments.

As a result, we provide clients with a comprehensive range of legal services right here in the Wairarapa. We can provide you with legal assistance whether you are an individual or a company, with everything from setting up a Will to selling your farming business. 

Region: Wairarapa

Phone: 06 370 0000

Johnston Lawrence Limited

We practise in the areas of business and property law, public law, dispute resolution and personal legal services.

Our partners each have specialist areas of expertise and are well known and respected both in the Wellington community and the legal profession. We also employ several associates who are also experienced in their areas of expertise.

Region: Wellington

Phone: 04 472 0940

Hannan & Seddon

The Law Firm of Hannan & Seddon dates back to September 1867.

The firm's offices were in Werita Street from 1867 until 1982 when the firm moved to Tarapuhi Street and then to its current spacious premises at 61 Guinness Street in 1998.

The name Hannan comes from Mr Michael Hannan whose son John Hannan (Jack) joined the firm in 1908. Jack Hannan remained in partnership until he passed away in 1974 at the age of 90!

The name Seddon comes from Mr T E Y Seddon (son of Premier Richard John Seddon from Kumara) who joined the firm in the 1920's. The other prominent Solicitor at Hannan & Seddon was Cyril McGinley who joined the firm in the late 1920’s and retired as a Consultant in 1997 aged 87.

Currently we have two Partners within our firm. Tony Sullivan who has been with us for 29 years and Colin Smith, 26 years. The firm also has two long serving Legal Executives Elaine Knowles and Beverley Walsh.  

Region: West Coast

Phone: 03 768 4169

All the information published on this website, or in any article herein is true and accurate to the best of the authors' knowledge. Information on this site should not be a substitute for legal advice. No liability is assumed by NZ LAW Limited, or individual NZ LAW member firms for losses suffered by any person or organisation relying directly or indirectly on information published on this site. Views expressed in any article are the views of the authors individually and do not necessarily reflect the view of NZ LAW or their member firms. Information appearing on this site may only be reproduced with prior approval from NZ LAW Limited Head Office, and credit being given to the source. © NZ LAW Limited