In May 2012 the Military Justice Law (Amendment 63) (restriction on delivery of information from criminal records and shortening of criminal record), 2011, known as adjustment 63 of Military Law (the “Amendment”), came into force. The Amendment adds a new arrangement in relation to the reduction of criminal records as part of Section 404A of Military Justice Law, 1955. The purpose of the Amendment is to reduce the burdensome consequences of a criminal record, as a result of a conviction in a Military Court, on the civilian life and employment opportunities of a soldier convicted of certain offenses.

Under the Amendment, a criminal record will be reduced where: (i) it applies to a conviction of a misdemeanor – where the law prescribes a punishment between three months’ imprisonment and three years’ imprisonment – and in respect of which the penalties specified in Section 404A(b) of the Military Law are imposed; and (ii) convictions of absenteeism from the army without leave, where a penalty not exceeding the penalty prescribed in Section 404A(c) of the Military Law is imposed.

The reduction of the criminal record includes two elements. One element limits passing on information of the conviction. Meaning, information about the conviction may be disclosed only to a limited list of entities [1], in order to reduce the consequences of a criminal record of a convicted soldier. Therefore, for example, someone who has a reduced criminal record can obtain professional licenses (such as an attorney, a guide, a taxi driver and a fireman), be accepted as a public worker, be appointed to serve the public, enter into agreements with the State, obtain visas to foreign countries and more.

The second element of a reduced criminal record is to shorten the expungement period to five years. Thus, after the expungement, access to information will be even more limited, and besides security agencies only the bodies listed in A to E of Schedule 1 of the Criminal Records Law may have access to the criminal record. This means that the information about the conviction will only be given to the above bodies when the convicted soldier stands to be appointed to very few senior positions such as a judge, President and the State Comptroller.

Furthermore, the Amendment provides that a soldier convicted during the last 17 years of a misdemeanor offense and sentenced under Section 404A of Military Justice Law, is entitled to obtain the benefits of a reduced criminal record, and the Israel Police will update the criminal record register accordingly. Therefore, a person convicted before a Military Court where it is the only conviction on the criminal record registry, and the conviction meets the conditions set forth in Section 404A of the Military Law, the conviction will automatically be transferred to the status of a reduced criminal record, without the need for the filing of any application.

It is important to note that the update to the criminal record registry will not be automatic if the soldier has a number of criminal convictions from different files where he was tried before a Military Court or a civilian Court. The reason for this is that according to Section 404A(f) of the Military Law, reduced criminal records does not apply to a conviction if at the date of the conviction there is pending against the soldier a conditional prison sentence, that the Court is entitled to make active, whether by ordering active prison or whether by extending the probation period. Therefore, a soldier convicted by a Military Court where the party has a previous conviction by another court (whether a civilian Court or a Military Court), the soldier will be required to submit an application request in order to obtain the benefits of a reduced criminal record.

The application for a reduced criminal record should be submitted to the Minister of Defense or Head of Pardons and Review of Sentencing in the Military Advocate General Corps, which was recently authorized by the Minister of Defense to handle this subject.

Under Section 6(b) of the Amendment, the Secretary of Defense, or the person he designates, shall examine whether at the date of conviction of the applicant there was an active probation sentence against the applicant. If it finds that the applicant was not placed on active probation, they shall order that the provisions of the Amendment shall apply to the applicant’s conviction and allow for a reduced criminal record.

In light of the above, a person who meets the requirements referred to above, may apply to have his criminal record converted to a reduced criminal record for a conviction in Military Court to the Head of Pardons and Review of Sentencing of the MAG Corps. If the applicant meets the provisions of the Amendment, an order will be given to change the criminal record to a reduced criminal record. Instructions will be passed to the Israel Police, so that they can update the Criminal records on the matter.

A request to apply for a reduced criminal record order must attach the following documents:

·         a copy of the printout of the criminal record

·         personal letter from the petitioner

·         the Military Court decision relevant to the application

·         any Court decisions in relation to the applicant

[1] The entities are in Section 13 of the Criminal Records Law and Regulations of Offenders, 1981