In New Zealand, a discharge without conviction is a sentence that can be imposed by the court. This means that you will not have a criminal record for the offence. A conviction will usually result in a criminal record unless you are discharged without conviction or given a Section 20 or 10 dismissal.
A notice of discharge will appear on your criminal record. However, it will not identify the offence for which you were discharged. The length of time that the discharge appears on your criminal record will depend on the sentence imposed by the court. For example, if you are sentenced to 12 months or less, the discharge will appear on your criminal record for one year from the date of sentencing. If you are sentenced to more than 12 months, the discharge will appear on your criminal record for seven years from the date of sentencing.
However, there are some conditions that must be met in order for you to be eligible for a discharge without conviction. These include:
-You must have no previous convictions;
-The offence must be minor;
-The deed must be out of character;
-A conviction would cause particular hardship; and/or
-There is insufficient evidence to make a conviction more likely than not.
If you do meet these conditions, then the court may choose to impose a sentence of discharge without conviction instead of a conviction and sentence. This is entirely at the discretion of the Judge.
When deciding whether or not to impose a sentence of discharge without conviction, the Judge will also consider any other relevant matters such as:
-The circumstances leading up to the offence;
-Your employment history; and/or
-Your family responsibilities.
Conclusion: Discharge without conviction is when the Court chooses not to convict you and instead discharges (clears) you from your sentence. This does not mean that you are innocent—it simply means that you will not have a criminal record for this particular offence. There are certain conditions that must be met in order for you to be eligible for this type of sentence and it is entirely up to the Judge's discretion whether or not to give you one.