LiveChat Loading...

Australian National Character Check livechat loading
Australian National Character Check livechat loading
  • Resources & Technical Articles
  • Pre-Employment Screening Topics
  • Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z)
  • Driving & Traffic Offences
  • Locations
  • What is a Police Check for unspent offences?

    The easiest way for a party to assess your criminal records is by presenting your Police Check result. The Police Check provides details and insight into all your criminal records on the Australian Criminal database.

    The Check is a nationwide checking process that includes all a person’s convictions issued by an Australian Court. The only convictions not shown in the criminal history check records are those where legislation prevents their disclosure.

    All offences that are unspent in Australia and do not qualify for other special programs will be shown in a Police Check.

    What are Unspent convictions?

    Any conviction that cannot be “Spent” is referred to as an "unspent" conviction. All convictions that are not spent and not committed to other legal programs will appear on a criminal history check certificate.

    Serious offences can never be spent and will always appear on a Police Check. If a person is convicted of an offence of Rape, Murder, Fraud offences, Aggravated assault offences, Manslaughter, it will always show up in their Check certificate.

    Since it is minor offences that are mostly spent, all severe violations are usually "unspent".

    What is the Spent Convictions Scheme?

    Under this scheme, eligible offences will be removed from a person's criminal records. The offences that are spent must satisfy some conditions, including a crime-free period.

    Not all offences can be spent; the scheme mostly appears to be minor (Summary) offences or those matters settled in a Magistrate Court.

    Offences that can be spent include;

    • Offences that did not incur a penalty term greater than 30 months,
    • Where the offender has observed the crime-free period without re-offending,
    • The Crime was not a severe or sensitive matter.

    What is a Crime-free period?

    It is a period of good Behaviour where the offender must avoid any other violations or offences under Australian laws. The Crime free period may also be called different names such as;

    • Rehabilitation period,
    • Qualification period,
    • Waiting period,
    • Good Behaviour period.

    The crime-free period before consideration for a Spent conviction is;

    What happens if a person re-offends during the crime-free period?

    The crime-free period commences;

    • Immediately after the conviction was given, or
    • After completing the term of imprisonment.

    The Crime free period should be when the offender keeps abiding with laws and avoids all other violations. If the person re-offends during a crime-free period, the period will restart.

    What are the benefits of a Spent Conviction?

    Most people who have a conviction on their records look forward to having their offences Spent. It is not difficult to understand this; having your convictions "Spent" comes with many advantages.

    In addition to the fact that you do not have to disclose your Spent records, other benefits of having your conviction spent is;

    • The right of no-disclosure

    It means you do not have to reveal the details of your offences to an employer or any other party. If you are asked about your spent convictions, you can choose not to discuss such records.

    However, special court orders or certain roles may require you to disclose your spent convictions as stipulated by the law.

    • You will not be assessed on a spent conviction.

    It is an act of discrimination under industrial laws for an employer to assess you on Spent convictions. An employer can only evaluate based on your spent records if it is vital to the role, and the offence is a relevant "qualifier".

    • It never appears on your Police Check.

    The Police Check will only disclose your "unspent" criminal records. The other spent convictions will have no other effects on your prospects unless the court/law deems it relevant.

    What offences show in my Police Checks?

    All unspent convictions are sure to appear on your Check results. These convictions can be spread into different categories depending on the sentencing.

    The details on your nationally coordinated criminal history check fall into any of these categories;

    • All traffic-related criminal offences,
    • All finding of guilt where the Magistrate issues no conviction,
    • Pending charges,
    • Arrest warrants for crimes,
    • All convictions except those that are Spent.

    All offences on your criminal records that appear on your Police Check certificate are your Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCOs).

    What does not show up in a Police Check?

    Not all convictions or records show in a criminal history check; some violations are just outside the scope of the Australian laws.

    Offences that do not show in your Police Check but are in your criminal records may be your No Disclosable Court Outcomes (NDCO).

    Offences that will not show in your Police Check are;

    • ✔ Diversionary Programs,
    • ✔ Infringement settlement,
    • ✔ Overseas convictions,
    • ✔ Non-finding of guilt,
    • ✔ Spent convictions,
    • ✔ Penalties imposed by institutions or professional bodies
    • ✔ Convictions issued by authorities other than the Australian Court.

    A check will also give a No Disclosable Court Outcomes (NDCO) result if there is no criminal history at all (a clean record).

    Do my unspent Youth records show in a Police Check?

    Most people wrongly believe that Youth records are wiped once a person turns 18. A Youth record can continue to the adult criminal record if the offence does not qualify for any criminal records “leniency programmes”.

    Under the Spent convictions scheme, your Youth records will last for five years (three years in New South Wales). However, If these convictions are for indictable offences convicted in a higher court (District/Supreme), they may remain in an adult record for life.

    Therefore, your unspent Youth records will always appear on your Check.

    Are traffic Offences automatically spent?

    Most people wonder if traffic offences appear on a Police Check; the answer is Yes. However, not all traffic offences are settled in Court nor automatically spent.

    Usually, the Police officer will issue an infringement/expiation notice, tickets, or warnings for traffic violations. These kinds of traffic offences (where there was no Court sentencing) will not show up on a criminal history check.

    However, serious traffic violations may lead to a court summon and a conviction if the Court finds you guilty.

    Also, you can get a conviction for a traffic offence if you contest the traffic offence in Court, and you lose the application.

    Why are overseas convictions not in a Police Check?

    The police record check is a nationally coordinated checking process. It only includes convictions issued by an Australian court or offences committed within Australia.

    An overseas conviction does not show up in a Police Check if the conviction was not prosecuted under Australian laws.

    However, this does not mean that all overseas convictions are "Spent" or cannot be used to assess an applicant. Employers who want to assess a candidate's overseas conviction should explore the means the overseas region provides or to obtain an ‘international police check’.

    Can Spent offences affect me?

    Typically, spent offences are wiped off your Police Check for life. However, some roles or purposes may require a background assessment deeper than the criminal record check. Other background checks may display your Spent convictions.

    Also, the law requires you to disclose your spent convictions if you are applying for certain purposes. For example, seeking a sensitive role via working with children checks will disclose your spent convictions.

    The Court may access your Criminal record in another court proceeding if it is relevant. All criminal histories will be available to the Court if they consider them relevant. Therefore, your Spent convictions may influence the court decision for other court proceedings.

    Can a Spent conviction be cancelled?

    No, offences that are spent are generally removed from your criminal history check certificate for life. The only time such records may reappear is if a court convicts you of the offence again. Every State and Territory in Australia adopt the Spent Convictions scheme, though each may have slightly varying laws.

    How do I apply for a Police Check for unspent convictions?

    The Police Check has become one of the standard means of assessing a candidate for various applications.

    The Check is useful for;

    Applicants can obtain their criminal history check through any of these means;

    • ✔ Australian National Character Check (ANCC)

    The online process that the approved services provide, eases the process of obtaining your certificate. You can start and complete your application online using a mobile, tablet or PC device.

    When you apply online through licensed agencies, you will get your Police Check application normally within 24 to 48 hours. The remaining that get referred for manual processing will take longer.

    • ✔ State or Territory Police Forces

    Applicants who want to apply through the local police force may need to visit the local Police office to certify or attest identification documents for the criminal history check.

    It typically takes between 10 and 15 days for the local police forces to issue a certificate to the applicant.

    • ✔ The Local Post office

    The post office can serve as a medium between applicants and the National Police Checking Service. Applicants must submit their completed form with the necessary verification ID.

    How long does a Police Check for unspent convictions last?

    A police record check is a point-in-time check; it is valid from the issue date to any other point a employer or decision maker deems suitable. A Police Check does not expire in the technical sense; it just depends on the preference of the requesting party.

    Most organisations will not accept a criminal background check older than three months; they consider it obsolete from that point. Considering that a criminal record is constantly updated, it is better to assess a candidate based on their recent Checks.

    How can I obtain a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?


    If you are an individual, you can obtain a national criminal record check certificate online via Australian National Character Check’s police check application form. The results are dispatched via email.

    Business and Enterprise Customers

    Business and Enterprise customers are able to sign up to ANCC’s business portal where they can order, manage, track and view candidates’ criminal history check results on their business portal. Organisations will undergo a process for approval prior to being granted access to ANCC’s business portal.

    ANCC sends an invite to the applicant to complete their criminal record check online and handles the application and informed consent form. Contact ANCC’s business and enterprise partnerships team today to enquire about setting up a business portal for your organisation.

    Copyright & Disclaimer

    The content on this website is communicated to you on behalf of Australian National Character Check™ (ANCC®) pursuant to Part VB of the Copyright Act 1968 (the Act).

    The material in this communication may be subject to copyright under the Act. Any further reproduction of this material may be the subject of copyright protection under the Act.

    You may include a link on your website pointing to this content for commercial, educational, governmental or personal use.

    The contents of this website do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice.