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  • How long does a criminal record last?

    The problem of determining a candidate's records (assuming he or she has applied for jobs) is no longer the case. The Criminal Record Check is a most veracious document for industries and agencies in assessing the people they work with.

    The Criminal Records usually stay in the National Criminal Database for life and will continue to appear in the individual’s Criminal Check report (Police Check) unless for;

    What is a Criminal Record

    If you have committed any offence as an adult and got a conviction in court, it will be in your Criminal records in Australia. The criminal record is your "legal report" in the Australian national Criminal Database.

    When a party requests a background check, or obtains it (with the individual's consent), it is called a Police Check. And the applicant receives a document/result that details all of the candidate's interactions with the law including;

    • Convictions/Charges against corporate organisations;
    • 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.

    Do all offences show in my Criminal records?

    Yes, all offences the court records against you will show up in your Criminal Records.

    However, the court does not just impose a criminal record for all offences; it considers some factors before concluding on if/not to register an offence. These factors include;

    1. The nature of the offence,
    2. The offender's character and age, and
    3. The impact of recording a conviction will have on the offender's economic or social wellbeing and employment prospects.

    Some of these factors may not be immediately clear to a layperson or the offender and can even be confusing. It is why you should get a lawyer if you are charged with an offence.

    What happens if I get a Criminal Record?

    A criminal record means the State records an unpleasant episode with you, through breaking or infringing any of the law. Having a criminal record can impact your life in more ways than you can imagine.

    If you have a criminal record, you may be;

    • Refused certain paid or volunteer roles under the law,
    • Refused from travelling or leaving the region where you got the conviction,
    • Prohibited from getting some licenses and rights,
    • Haunted by the records in future years if you have another case,
    • Given heavy fines and other penalties,
    • Prevented from certain areas or vicinity or persons.

    Can a Conviction be wiped from my records?

    Yes, it is possible to have a clean record or criminal history even though the court has found you guilty of an offence.

    Some examples are;

    The court will only grant a diversionary program, non-conviction order or similar programs for lesser offences.

    However, if the court already registers a conviction against you, and it appears in your criminal records, you can inquire about the spent convictions scheme of the State.

    Spent Convictions Scheme

    Under the Australian Spent convictions scheme, "eligible" convictions are wiped off a person's criminal records after certain periods.

    It limits the disclosure of certain older offences once a period stipulated by the law expires or certain conditions are met. The period is referred to as the 'waiting period' or the 'crime-free period. Generally, the waiting period is;

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

    What is a Waiting Period?

    During the “waiting period” the candidate must not get another conviction for any offence, no matter how related.

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

    The waiting period is also called the;

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

    The conviction is considered as Spent where;

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

    Are all offences considered for the Spent convictions scheme?

    As stated earlier, only eligible offences under the State (jurisdiction) laws and the scheme can become “Spent”. These are usually lesser offences under the State laws.

    Serious offences, especially those which incurred heavy penalties/imprisonment periods are not eligible for the Spent conviction scheme. Examples of these convictions are;

    • Convictions of which a prison sentence of more than 30 months is imposed.
    • Convictions for all sexually related offences
    • Convictions against corporate bodies
    • Convictions stipulated by regulations

    How do I apply for the Spent convictions Scheme?

    For most states (except Western Australia), the "eligible convictions" will be wiped of your criminal records automatically once the conditions are complete. You don't have to apply to a court, judge, or Police commissioner to have your offence Spent like in WA.

    However, you can apply to have your offence spent; if you think it satisfies all criteria as stipulated in the Spent Convictions Scheme of your jurisdiction.

    Can my Spent Convictions be used against me?

    If your conviction becomes spent, you get the right of no disclosure. It means you don’t have to disclose details of the conviction, or any related circumstances if you are queried.

    It is also an offence for an officer or other people privy to your records to disclose the details of your Spent offences. The law imposes heavy penalties on people who disclose a person's spent convictions without approval.

    However, in some cases, the Court may make it mandatory for the candidate to disclose all their records (even Spent offences). It can even become an offence if you hide such criminal records in these situations.

    Some of them include;

    Wrapping Up

    Your criminal record in Australia is synonymous with your shadow; it follows you around. Wherever possible, inquire and accept offers that help you avoid a criminal record.

    It is important to note that offences that are not eligible to be spent or cancelled under further legal pardons will remain in your criminal records for life. And for offences that are eligible to be spent, they will show up in your criminal records during the "waiting period".


    Part VIIC of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) -

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