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  • What is a full disclosure police check?

    A full disclosure police check reveals relevant criminal history of an applicant. The requester of this information often uses your criminal record to determine your suitability for specific roles.

    If you've requested a police check, it's likely the case you'll feel this unease, especially if you're uncertain what might show up. You are not alone! That is why understanding what to expect will give you the peace of mind you need while helping you plan better. You'll know what to expect in your police certificate by the end of this post.

    What convictions show up in a police check?

    Figuring out what might show up in your police check might not be as straightforward as it seems. Remember when you received a speeding ticket - will that appear in a police check? Or the time you were drunk driving?

    The Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCO) stipulates the information in your police certificate. Some key categories that may show up in your police check include:

    ✔ Court convictions

    If you are convicted of a crime, it will reflect in a police check. The police check will also include the nature of the crime and the punishment meted out.

    ✔ Findings of guilt

    Under the non-conviction sentencing, it is possible to be found guilty without receiving a formal sentence. Such offences will in most States and Territories also appear in a police check.

    ✔ Pending charges

    Depending on your territory's laws, if you have a pending criminal case, a police check might include that information.

    ✔ Good behaviour bond

    A good behaviour bond is a promise by the offender to be of best behaviour. Such an offender goes into the community without serving jail time. However, a good behaviour bond will reflect in a police check until the bond expires. The police check will also include the details and conditions of the bond.

    ✔ Unspent convictions

    As will be discussed later on, some convictions cannot be spent. These offences will remain in a police check forever.

    Spent Conviction Scheme in Australia

    While criminal checks are to protect vulnerable groups and the community at large, they mustn't serve as a basis for discrimination. For example, imagine being refused a job as a factory worker because you stole a bottle of wine 15 years earlier, even after you've been on your best behaviour ever since.

    The Spent Conviction Scheme was stipulated to define Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCOs), which can/cannot appear in a police check to prevent such unreasonableness. Hence, one important rule to remember is that the Spent Conviction Scheme defines convictions on a police check.

    The Spent Conviction Scheme defines a waiting period, after which offences are removed from checks. For non-adults, this is usually five years after you receive the conviction. And for adults, this is usually a ten year period. However, there are two significant caveats.

    1. This typically applies to minor convictions. Common examples include traffic infringements
    2. You must not be a repeat offender during the waiting period unless the counter restarts.

    Note that the specifics of the Spent Conviction Scheme depend on your jurisdiction. For instance, in the ACT, the Spent Convictions Act 2000 and the commonwealth legislation on Spent Offences define when a conviction becomes spent. But in New South Wales, this is defined under the Criminal Records Act 1991.

    Spending convictions are automatically removed when the waiting period expires. However, in some states like Western Australia, the applicant must apply in a WA court to dismiss the spent conviction.

    Note that convictions can also qualify as spent if the applicant is granted a pardon for wrongful conviction.

    Examples of offences that can NEVER be spent

    As mentioned earlier, most minor offences are spent after a good behaviour period. However, some crimes can never be spent and will forever appear in a police check. Some examples of these offences include:

    ✔ Sexual-related offences

    Because sex offenders are considered a threat to vulnerable groups, the law does not permit sex offences to become spent.

    ✔ Murder and manslaughter

    Murderers are dangerous to society at large. Hence, this significant crime can never be spent.

    ✔ Corporate fraud

    Corporate fraud is one major challenge employers face. Hence, employers need to know if an applicant is a corporate fraudster to assess their integrity and suitability.

    ✔ Serious convictions stated by regulations

    Indictable Convictions like terrorism and aggravated assaults with long imprisonment terms are considered too severe and will forever remain in an offender's record.

    ✔ Convictions with a penalty of more than 30 months

    As a general rule, offences for which the punishment is greater than 30 months are considered severe. Consequently, they cannot become spent.

    Roles exempt from Spent Convictions Scheme

    Specific roles require full disclosure of criminal history, especially when the position involves working with vulnerable groups. Hence, it's best to err on the side of over-cautiousness. Examples of such positions include:

    • Working with Children
    • Working in aged care
    • Caring for disables
    • Requesting a firearms permit
    • Job in the hospital
    • Overseas employment
    • Employment at immigration detention centres
    • Driver accreditation.

    Offences that will not show up in a police check

    Many applicants are usually baffled when an offence they committed doesn't reflect in a police check. In most instances, this is not a mistake! Not all violations end up in a police certificate. In addition to spent convictions, other violations that may not show up in a police check include:

    ✔ Diversionary programs

    The court might decide a diversionary program - like community service - to be a more suitable penalty than conviction or sentencing. Aside from a good behaviour bond, diversionary programs do not appear in a police check.

    ✔ Inconclusive or dropped charges

    If there's insufficient evidence to establish your guilt, the court may close your matter, which would not reflect in your record. The Australian Criminal Database does not include dropped charges.

    ✔ Overseas convictions

    A national police check only covers the jurisdiction of Australia. Hence, overseas crimes unrelated to Australia will not appear in the national police check.

    ✔ Out-of-court settlements

    Offences resolved outside the court will not show up in a police certificate.

    Wrap Up

    The Spent Convictions Scheme defines Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCOs). Minor offences are spent after ten years. More severe crimes will remain on your criminal record for a lifetime.

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