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4. Under what circumstances could the criminal record be deleted?

Once a person has been convicted of a criminal offence, the criminal record cannot be deleted from the police or court files (unless the offender successfully appealed against the conviction). However, under section 2 of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Ordinance (Cap. 297) , if a person who has not previously committed any offence before that person is convicted of an offence and is not sentenced to imprisonment exceeding three months or a fine exceeding $10,000, that person's conviction record will be considered as "spent" if he has not re-offended within a period of three years.

The effect of a spent conviction is that in general that person should be regarded as not having been convicted of the offence. Hence, if that person is asked by his potential employer or other person whether he has committed any offence before, he can simply say "No". He cannot be dismissed by his employer on the ground that he did not disclose his criminal record or on the ground that he has a conviction.

However, this spent conviction scheme is subject to a number of exceptions. For example, it does not apply if that person wants to apply for some high ranking jobs in the Government or if he wants to become a lawyer, accountant, an insurance broker or the director of a licensed bank (see sections 3 and 4 of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Ordinance for further details of the exceptions). Moreover, if that person applies for a Certificate of No Criminal Conviction from the police for emigration purposes, the police will still disclose such criminal record in the Certificate with a note that the relevant conviction is regarded as spent under Hong Kong Law.

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