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  • Spent Convictions in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

    The Australian Capital Territory has a running scheme where the "impact of a conviction record" is mitigated or removed. However, it is only applied where the offender has shown a period of good behaviour and completes their penalties.

    A conviction that is classified as “spent” in the ACT will not show up on an individual’s national police check in the ACT.

    The Spent Convictions Scheme is active in all States and Territories in Australia.

    In the ACT, it is called the Spent Convictions Scheme under the Spent Conviction Act of 2000.

    The Spent Convictions Scheme also follows all other related rules stated in the Crimes (Sentencing) Act 2005.

    The Crimes Act 1914 of the Commonwealth may also apply if the conviction is given under Commonwealth jurisdiction.

    What are Spent Convictions?

    Any conviction is classified as a spent conviction if;

    • The offender is pardoned
    • The conviction is quashed or struck off
    • Findings of guilt that do not lead to a conviction
    • Where a Good Behaviour Order in the ACT is imposed instead of a conviction/imprisonment.
    • Where the “criminal free” period elapses without the person committing another offence.

    Before releasing the conviction details of a person either through a Police Check or other means, the Police must "take out" the spent convictions. It is a serious offence in the ACT and Australia for any official or agency privy to the result to release them without a court order.

    Any official privy to the Spent Convictions of a candidate is bound by the rights of no-disclosure.

    However, if it relates to work in a hospital, children or other private services, the offender may have to disclose them.

    When will my conviction become Spent?

    Under the Spent Convictions Scheme, not all offences can become spent. Some convictions are too serious for the Spent Convictions Scheme.

    However, for offences that are eligible to be "spent", they are removed from your records automatically after the “waiting period”.

    The waiting period before an offence becomes spent in the ACT is;

    • 5 years for convictions in a juvenile court or if convicted as a juvenile
    • 10 years for convictions in an adult court or if convicted as an adult
    • The conviction must not have attracted more than 6 months of imprisonment
    • The waiting period commences after your jail term

    However, during this “waiting period”, the offender must;

    • Not be convicted of another offence during this period
    • Must satisfy all the conditions of their conviction, including; Fines, rehab programs or restitutions.
    • If the offender commits another offence during this “waiting period”, the period will restart after the new conviction.

    What is a non-conviction Order?

    Under the Crimes (sentencing) Act 2005, the court can pronounce an accused person without recording a conviction against them. However, the court will impose a good behaviour term instead of a conviction or sentencing. Good behaviour terms usually last for a maximum period of 3 years. At the end of the period, the court records no conviction for the charge.

    Also, the court will issue a non-conviction order if the case is dismissed

    However, not all findings of guilt can end in a Good Behaviour Bond, the court considers factors like;

    • Age of offender.
    • How serious the offence was
    • The criminal history of the offender
    • Other extenuating circumstances

    What is a Waiting Period?

    The waiting period is an informal undertaking of the individual to be of good behaviour within that period.

    Under the Commonwealth Spent Convictions Scheme, the waiting period for Commonwealth offences is;

    • For juveniles or those convicted by a juvenile court, the waiting period is 5 years.
    • If an adult is convicted or an individual gets a conviction in an adult court, they have a waiting period of 10 years.

    The scheme does not include offences with an imprisonment term of more than 30 months

    The Commonwealth Convictions Scheme

    All offences with;

    • A federal aspect,
    • Investigated by the Australian Federal Police,
    • Involved international trade or violations,
    • Multi-territories Crimes are regarded as Commonwealth crimes.

    It doesn't matter where they commit the offence, or the people involved. All commonwealth offences are handled under the Commonwealth Crime Act.

    What offences are not eligible to be spent under the Scheme?

    Almost all States and Territories (except Victoria) adopt the Spent Convictions Scheme to mitigate the effects of a conviction. However, it does not mean that all offences are eligible to become spent under the law.

    The basic criteria of the scheme in the ACT are that such offences should not have incurred an imprisonment term of more than 6 months.

    Other similar offences in this category are;

    • Sexually related offences (Rape, misconducts, violations, and co),
    • Child abuse, trafficking, assaults, and related offences,
    • Public abuses and misappropriations,
    • Serious Financial Crimes.
    • And other convictions where it is necessary to disclose them for the role you apply for.

    For example, if you have a child-related conviction, it will not be a spent offence when applying as a Teacher, or a school bus driver.

    How long does the Spent Convictions program last?

    If you have any of your convictions spent, they are removed from your criminal history check records forever. Also, it is not disclosed in future or updated Police Check results, except the court orders it.

    However, while these results are removed from the public criminal records, they remain in the private Police/Criminal Database, and may even be provided as evidence in court.

    Also, where the court makes it compulsory to disclose such offence for a role, the candidate must disclose it.

    How does a Spent Conviction help me?

    The Spent Conviction Scheme will mitigate the future effect of a conviction on the applicant’s life.

    When you have a conviction that is “Spent”, you are under no legal obligation to disclose it to any employer. You may only disclose it if you wish, or where the court mandates it.

    The Spent Convictions Scheme also provides people with a criminal history a fresh start. It ensures they are not unnecessarily discriminated against because of having a conviction history. No one knows of your criminal history since it is not disclosed in the result.

    How do I know if my Offence is Spent?

    If you think your conviction satisfies all the criteria, you can apply to the court to have your offence spent. While there is no special notice for a spent offence, you can easily discover it when you apply for an updated National Police Check result.

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