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I was convicted for common assault on June 14th this year and

given a 12-month conditional discharge...
I was convicted for common assault on June 14th this year and given a 12-month conditional discharge. I did not commit the crime in the first place, however, the court chose to believe the complainant's story over mine (hugely upsetting, frustrating).

I did not feel an appeal would be worth my while and I certainly could not afford it therefore the 3 weeks in which to lodge an appeal have now passed.

I have already had a job offer retracted because of this unjust conviction and I feel as though I cannot move on with my life. The complainant did not have to produce any evidence that I supposedly hit him and did not have any witnesses... why is it that magistrates can simply pick a story they like the most to decide what happens to a person's life? I have no previous convictions and now face misery all based upon a lie.

Is there anything at all I can do to prove my innocence or have I, in the eyes of the law, been given the chance to do this already and there is nothing more I can do?

Most importantly, I would like to know for how long I must disclose this conviction to potential employers? I understand my sentence becomes 'spent' after 12 months but do I forever have to mention this conviction on my job application forms? Also, do I assume that countries such as the USA and Australia will not allow me to visit due to this conviction? Does it matter that it is a low grade offence with one of the lowest forms of punishment?

I appreciate there is a lot here but I feel hugely aggrieved and would like some legal assistance as to how I can move forward with my life. Thank you.
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Answered in 9 minutes by:
7/11/2013
Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 49,087
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.


I empathise with your situation, however I must stress that if you did not agree with the outcome and believed that there were procedural failures then it is something you should have considered appealing within the relevant time limits. In the eyes of the law you had the chance to defend this in court and then also to launch an appeal, so by giving up the right to appeal you have more or less accepted this outcome.


 


In terms of disclosing this to potential employers, the sentence will become spent 1 year after date of conviction. So what you disclose to employers will very much depend on what they have asked you at the application stage. If the conviction is still unspent and you are asked to disclose any unspent convictions, or are asked if you have a criminal record, then you will have to disclose it.


 


Once the conviction has become spent you will only have to disclose it if you are asked whether you have any spent convictions, although this is relatively rare.


 


It is not true that you cannot visit these countries because of this. For example for visits in the US you will not be eligible for visa-free travel and must get a visa to enter the country. You will have to mention this conviction and they may interview you in order to determine your suitability to enter the country. Many people with criminal record travel to these countries, it just makes the process that little bit more complex.

Customer:

Are there further charges for follow up questions?

Ben Jones :

is it related to this situation?

Customer:

yes it is

Ben Jones :

related follow up questions which I can deal with will attract no further charges

Customer:

ok thanks...

Customer:

My current employer (a local public authority) conducted an investigation that concluded that I do not pose a threat to myself, my colleagues or anybody else I come into contact with during the course of my employment and also that the conviction does not bring the authority into disrepute.

Customer:

I applied for a job at another pyblic authority (transport body) before I received a conviction. They offered me the job but I disclosed the conviction as I thought it the right thing to do. However, they retracted the offer because they felt I would be a risk to their reputation. Are they entirely within their rights to do this, even though my current employer (a public authority in just the same way) concluded that I do not pose any threats?

Ben Jones :

was the job offer conditional on anything?

Customer:

Excerpt from conditional offer letter....


The offer is conditional on receipt of two satisfactory references, as provided on your application form and completion of an Occupational Health pre-employment questionnaire which I will forward on receipt of your references.

Customer:

There was no mention of criminal record. From memory, there was a question on the application form about disclosing convictions but, as I said, I did not have a record at that point

Ben Jones :

Whilst the job may not have been specifically conditional; on your criminal record, the circumstances under which they made the offer have now changed and that may make the offer no longer being capable of going through. It does not mean it is necessarily legal but I will explain how your rights will be affected from that.


 


If you were given an offer of employment, which you accepted, then it would amount to a legally binding contract. It is possible to have the offer being conditional on certain conditions but if those conditions have been satisfied then the offer would still stand and be binding on both parties.


 


Therefore, if the employer had subsequently withdrawn the offer they would potentially be acting in breach of contract. The issue is what you can bout this. Whilst you can claim for breach of contract that will only try and place you in the position you would have been had your contract not been breached.


 


The court will rarely force an employer to take you on and instead they will consider financial compensation. If you did not have a notice period specified you cannot rely on a specific notice that you would have been entitled to and that which should be paid. As a result you would be looking at the minimum statutory notice period that would apply in your case. Unfortunately, with less than a month's service that notice period does not exist. This means that the employer could have taken you on and allowed you to start working for them. They could have then legally dismissed you on your first day of employment without having to give you any notice. As such your losses would have either been none, or limited to the very short time you would have been paid for working with them.

Customer:

I verbally accepted the offer but did not sign and return my offer letter because I was awaiting further info as to whether my conviction would change anything. My offer letter says I have until today to accept it. Does this mean, if I sign and accept and send back that they are then in a legally binding contract with me?

Ben Jones :

Not if the offer has been withdrawn before it was accepted

Customer:

OK. One final thing... do magistrates (or anybody else) have the power to quash convictions out of court?

Ben Jones :

I need to check this with a colleague, will get back to you shortly

Customer:

Thank you

Ben Jones :

A criminal law colleague has advised me that even if you are out of time to submit the appeal by a few days it would not necessarily prevent you from doing this if you wanted to appeal it and had a valid point of appeal. So it may still be possible to appeal, which is the only way to challenge this, but you would need to also justify the delay in making the appeal.

Customer:

Thank you

Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: UK Law
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