A Discharge Without Conviction is a formal finding of guilt made by a judge in New Zealand. The sentence is recorded as "discharged without conviction", but the offender's name is not suppressed. This is different from a section 5(e) discharge (previously called section 106 of the Crimes Act 1961), which results in no formal finding of guilt and the offender's name being suppressed.
People often seek a discharge without conviction because they are worried about the effect a criminal record will have on their employment prospects, foreign travel or visa applications. However, there are some things you should consider before applying for a discharge without conviction. These include:
-The seriousness of the offence
-Your personal circumstances
-The interests of justice
-The views of the victim
-Any other relevant factors
The Seriousness of the Offence
One of the things the court will consider when deciding whether or not to grant you a discharge without conviction is how serious the offence is. The more serious the offence, the less likely it is that you will be given a discharge without conviction. For example, offences that carry a prison sentence are generally considered to be more serious than those that only attract a fine.
Your Personal Circumstances
Another factor the court will consider is your personal circumstances. This includes your age, character, health and mental state, antecedents (previous convictions), and family and employment status. For example, if you are a first time offender with no previous convictions, this will work in your favour when applying for a discharge without conviction.
The Interests of Justice
When deciding whether or not to give you a discharge without conviction, the court must also take into account the interests of justice. This includes things like the impact of a criminal record on your employment prospects or foreign travel plans. It also includes preventing crime and protecting victims. In some cases, granting you a discharge without conviction may go against the interests of justice – for example, if there are victims involved who oppose your application.
Conclusion: If you've been charged with an offence and you're considering applying for a discharge without conviction, there are several things you need to take into account beforehand. These include the seriousness of the offence, your personal circumstances and the interests of justice. Keep in mind that even if you meet all of these criteria, there's no guarantee that your application will be successful – it's ultimately up to the court to decide whether or not to grant you a discharge without conviction.
If you're considering applying for a discharge without conviction, you should seek legal advice from an experienced lawyer. They can help you to understand the process, explain your rights and advise you on the best course of action for your particular circumstances. They can also represent you in court if necessary. It's important that you give yourself the best chance of success so make sure to consult a lawyer before making any decisions.