We are getting a lot of enquiries where clients are confused about the difference between a conviction and an offence.
You may be worried that your visa can be declined if you fail to declare an offence.
About offenses and convictions
A big question we get a lot: Is a speeding ticket considered to be a conviction that needs to be declared to Immigration New Zealand (INZ)?
No! A speeding ticket is not a conviction, it is an offence.
So what is conviction? A conviction means that you have been found guilty of a crime by a court or that you have agreed to plead guilty to a crime. If you are found guilty of, or plead guilty to, any level of crime, you are generally considered to have a conviction.
If a person pleads guilty to or is found guilty of, an offence, usually they are convicted of that offence. However, a judge still has discretion not to convict that person. This is when the judge grants a discharge without conviction. It means the defendant, although guilty of an offence, will have no criminal record. If no conviction is recorded, you do not need to disclose to INZ that you have been charged with that offence.
If you have got a speeding ticket, parking ticket, or similar notice you are not required to disclose this information to INZ. Usually, these minor traffic offences are dealt with as infringement offences. You will probably have to pay a fine, and in some cases could even have your licence suspended, but you won’t get a conviction on your criminal record. However, in some cases, you might be charged and have to go to District Court.
Speeding is usually dealt with as an infringement offence if you’re going less than 50km/h over the speed limit (eg. less than 99km/h in a 50km/h area). This means you’ll get a fine and demerit points. The amount will depend on how much over the speed limit you were going. A fine will be between $30 and $630, and demerit points will be between 10 – 50 points. Travelling at 40km/h or more above the speed limit could have your licence suspended for 28 days. If you speed by more than 50km/h over the speed limit, it is likely that you’ll be charged and have to go to court. The charge could be for careless, dangerous, or reckless driving.
Therefore, when making an application, applicants are required to declare their convictions, they are not required to declare their offenses.
We hope this article helped you to understand the difference between offence and convictions.
If you are still not sure please get in touch and talk to the experts at Zealand Immigration.