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.
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.
When you are discharged without conviction, the Court may impose certain conditions or restrictions on your behaviour such as community service, counselling sessions or even a suspended sentence. These conditions must be followed in order for you to remain out of trouble and not have your discharge revoked. Discharge without conviction can also be seen as an alternative sentence that takes into account your individual circumstances and situation, allowing you to avoid the stigma of having a criminal record.
It is important to note that even if you are discharged without conviction, details of the offence may still be retained in government databases and accessed by law enforcement agencies if necessary. In some cases, employers or potential employers may also be able to access this information.
For this reason, it is important to seek advice from a lawyer to make sure that you are aware of all of the options available and the consequences of having a criminal record before making any decisions. A lawyer can help you understand the process and provide guidance on what is best for your particular case. It is also important to remember that while being discharged without conviction can be a beneficial outcome, it is not always the best option and should only be considered after careful consideration.