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  • Can Traffic Offence Convictions Become Spent?

    Having a criminal record against your name on the criminal database can be difficult to navigate in Australia. Most people will rather and wisely enter into an intervention program or non-conviction bonds the court offers them instead of a conviction sentencing.

    However, if you already have a conviction in your criminal history, there are some programmes under the law that can clear your records. One such program is the Spent Convictions Scheme.

    What are Traffic Offences?

    The Road and Traffic Acts in various States and Territories prohibits certain behaviours and inactions of drivers on Australian roads.

    For some of these offences, the Police may impose the penalties directly by issuing a Traffic ticket. However, for some serious offences or aggravating circumstances of these actions, the offending driver or owner of the vehicle will get a court summons.

    If the Magistrate or Judge finds you guilty of these offences, they will issue a conviction. And it will show up in your criminal record check in Australia.

    So to make it clear, traffic offences that attract a sentencing, penalty or conviction from an Australian legal court will show up as a traffic offence on a police check.

    Can a Traffic offence become Spent?

    Offences eligible for the spent convictions scheme will be removed from the candidate's Criminal records automatically (except in WA).

    However, certain conditions must be met before the Conviction can become spent. It does not matter whether it was traffic, domestic, public or other types of offence.

    Some of these conditions are;

    1. The individual is granted a pardon for a reason other than that of a "wrongful conviction".
    2. The individual was not sentenced to prison for more than 30 months (Commonwealth).
    3. Period of "good behaviour" or waiting period has ended without another conviction.

    So, if your traffic offence satisfies all the conditions, it will become “Spent” after the waiting period.

    What is the Spent Convictions Scheme?

    Under this scheme, eligible offences are removed from the candidate's Criminal records if the "waiting period" elapses, satisfying all conditions. It also limits the disclosure of the older offences (eligible) once the “waiting period” stipulated by the law expires and some conditions are complete.

    Generally, the waiting period is;

      ✔ Ten years since the conviction is received as an adult (in a non-juvenile court).
      ✔ Five years (three in NSW) since the conviction was received as a child or minor.

    The waiting periods?

    During this period, the candidate promises to be of good behaviour and abide by all the legislation. They must not get another conviction by any other court during this period.

    If they commit another offence and get another conviction, then the waiting period restarts.

    The waiting period is also called the;

    • Good behaviour period;
    • Crime free period;
    • Qualification period;
    • Rehabilitation period.

    Do all Traffic Offences show in a Police Check?

    No, not all traffic offences will show in your police criminal records in the first place.

    All the offences for which you only get a traffic ticket, police caution, fines or other penalties settled on the spot will not show up in your Criminal records. However, these records are kept at the traffic offence or the Police records.

    The Police can reference these records in court in future court proceedings but will not be part of your Australian criminal records.

    Also, if you challenge a Traffic offence/penalty in a court, and you win the objection, the matter is closed. It will never be on your records. Dropped or dismissed charges do not show up on a criminal history check.

    Are all traffic Offences eligible to be spent?

    No, not all traffic offences you get a court conviction on are eligible for the Spent Convictions Scheme. Remember that the Spent Convictions scheme is for certain “eligible” offences; these offences are usually considered lesser under the Australian laws.

    Offences that incurred penalties over 30 months under the Australian laws can never become Spent.

    Some of these non-eligible offences include;

    • Serious DUI (Driving under the influence) offences,
    • Speeding offences well above 45km/h,
    • Serious Drink Driving offences,
    • Aggravated Driving offences (Involving a pregnant woman, child, in an emergency zone, manslaughter charges, murder charges),
    • Other Serious Traffic infringements,
    • Attacking a Traffic or Police officer to prevent arrest, causing them serious bodily injuries,
    • Traffic offences the court stipulates during sentencing cannot become Spent.

    Other offences that can never become Spent under the Australian laws are;

    • Convictions for all sexually related offences
    • Convictions against corporate bodies
    • Convictions stipulated by regulations

    How do I apply for the Spent convictions Scheme?

    Asides from Western Australia (WA), eligible convictions are wiped of your criminal records "automatically" once the conditions are satisfied. You don’t have to apply to a court, judge, or Police commissioner to have your offence Spent. In WA, an application needs to be made to the WA Police Force.

    However, you should apply for the spent convictions scheme if you think it satisfies all criteria as stipulated in the Spent Convictions Scheme of your jurisdiction.

    What are the benefits of having your offences spent?

    1. If your conviction becomes Spent, you are protected by the Non-disclosure Rights. It means you don’t have to disclose the details of this conviction to any party or organisation that requests it.
    2. The spent convictions cannot be used to judge or assess your qualities, even when criminal records are a requirement.
    3. It becomes an offence if any official or agency privy to your spent convictions discloses them without permission or consent. The law even stipulates heavy fines for those who illicitly disclose a person’s Spent convictions records.

    However, some roles or court orders may require you to disclose these records. The legislation makes it mandatory for an applicant to disclose details of their spent convictions, especially where their roles involve sensitive positions.

    Some examples where you may need to disclose your spent traffic offences are;

    How can I obtain my criminal history check online?

    Applicants can obtain their criminal history check online via the Australian National Character Check website. The majority of checks are dispatched to applicants within 24 hours of completion. The remaining which are referred for manual processing take longer to process.

    Wrapping Up

    A criminal record is not the same as a Police/Traffic record.

    A traffic record contains details of all your traffic offences, including tickets, fines, license seizures, warnings and so on. And they do not appear on your Criminal records unless the court convicts you on any of them.

    A Criminal record contains all your dealings with the Australian laws, excluding the Spent convictions. Some examples of the offences on your criminal records are;

    • Convictions/Charges against corporate organizations
    • Sexually related offences
    • Traffic charges for which an individual is convicted
    • Sentences and Convictions
    • Pending court charges and offences
    • Offences not under the Spent Convictions Scheme of the State
    • Other convictions stipulated by the court as disclosable on the individual’s Check

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