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Criminal Injury Compensation: What if you have a criminal record?

Criminal records and unspent convictions in CICA claims

Can you still claim CICA criminal injury compensation if you also have a criminal record? Here we discuss the key issues regarding how the CICA handle cases where an otherwise eligible claimant has unspent convictions

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How a criminal record can effect your CICA claim

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What is the CICA?

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is a government body that manages a compensation scheme for blameless victims of crime who have been physically or psychologically injured.

Why a criminal record is relevant to a CICA claim

In 2012 sweeping changes were introduced under the amended CICA compensation scheme relating to live or unspent convictions. The CICA tightened up their criteria for considering awards for those who (however blameless in terms of their crime related injuries) have themselves committed criminal acts that have led to a conviction. Put simply government policy is now that people who have themselves committed crimes should not benefit from a publicly funded scheme.

What should you do if you have a criminal record and wish to claim?

GET ADVICE BEFORE YOU MAKE A CLAIM if you have any concerns about your criminal record. Once your claim is submitted to the CICA there is no way to rescind it and start afresh. You cannot submit a second application – just one claim is allowed per matter. However very often it is possible to successfully claim if you get the timing right and ensure that any conviction has fully expired.

Do you need to mention your record at all? How will they know?

A standard police national computer and DBS check will always be carried out when the CICA assess a claim. Any relevant convictions should be disclosed upon notification of a claim, failure to do so immediately prejudices the applicants right to claim. Honesty is most definitely the best policy as there can be no hiding place when dealing with a government department.

A criminal record should not penalise you forever - in most cases it will not

Most convictions are deemed "spent" after a certain amount of time. Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA) criminal convictions are subject to a period of disclosure whereby they can be deemed relevant to job applications or other areas such as insurance quotes etc. Beyond the period of disclosure they become “spent” or rehabilitated and are no longer relevant. The ROA rules apply to the CICA claim process as well. However bear in mind that certain convictions are deemed to be never spent. An example of this would be a prison sentence in excess of 4 years.

What you need to know if you have a conviction / criminal record

Firstly we would advise you to read this page regarding convictions and criminal records and how or when they become spent. Under the new rules if you are over 18 and have been convicted of any offence resulting in one or more of the following, it is possible you may not be eligible to make a claim:

(Be aware - specific advice on your case is strongly recommended)

  1. A sentence excluded from rehabilitation
  2. A custodial sentence of more than 4 years (worth noting custodial sentences of between 30 months and 48 months carry a 7 year ban from the end of the sentence / licence period)
  3. A Military Court custodial sentence of more than 4 years
  4. Any equivalent sentence to the above if received in Northern Ireland or a member state of the EU

Lesser convictions may still allow for a claim to be made. If you have been subject to a fine, ban, conditional caution or similar - these types of sentence can still be taken into consideration by the CICA, however they may not result in a complete rejection of a claim. In the majority of cases if these sentences are still classed as “unspent” the CICA are in a position to consider a reduction to the amount of compensation that may be available.

Tips for those with live or unspent convictions

  • Firstly, understand that if you claim during the period your conviction is live, your claim is likely to be refused with little prospect of an appeal. Therefore knowing when the penalty period expires is crucial.
  • Secondly, check your actual police record in advance of any claim and gather the relevant conviction data. You can do this for FREE on the ACRO website here.
  • Thirdly, remember in most cases you have 2 years to claim from the date of any incident OR police disclosure so use this period wisely if a conviction is soon to expire. Remember it is also possible to claim after this date in certain circumstances so more time can be allowed. But get advice on this issue as the rules on deadlines can be enforced severely.

Please speak to us if you have any queries about your conviction status and how this affects your right to claim. More help is available from charities such as Unlock.

How the CICA can reduce compensation for certain convictions

The CICA assess a reduction by applying penalty points under the scheme following the results of a convictions check.

These penalty points range from 1 (being the minimum) to 10 or more being the maximum. Compensation is usually subject to a percentage reduction depending on the number of penalty points that apply, e.g. 1 penalty point can mean a 10% reduction to compensation, 2 penalty points can mean a 15% reduction and so on. The maximum of 10 penalty points or more will usually result in a rejection of a claim.

You may wish to calculate your potential sexual abuse compensation award to have an understanding of your entitlement.

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