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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z) Spent Convictions Scheme Spent conviction rules for offences committed as a child or minor

    Spent conviction rules for offences committed as a child or minor

    Any individual convicted of an offence in Australia must endure the punishments by the law, including having a conviction in their criminal records. These punishments can vary depending on the degree of the offence, intent and the legal status of the person (minor or adult).

    However, if the person is convicted as a child or convicted in a juvenile court, it will attract the punishments dedicated to “minor” offenders.

    What are Spent Convictions?

    Most States and Territories in Australia have an individual scheme that "pardons" minor offences from a person's criminal records after they satisfy certain conditions. This scheme is not a "pat on the back" for offenders, but protects them from unfair marginalisation and facilitates their reintegration into society.

    All the offences cleared from the individual’s Police and Criminal records are called Spent Convictions.

    They will no longer show up in the person’s national police check result

    Who is a minor by Australian law?

    The Australian law stipulates that all individuals under the age of 18 years are minors. This law is unsurprisingly constant in all States and Territories of the country. However, the age of consent may be lower for medical treatments and related issues.

    People within this age range are convicted in a juvenile court or as minors in the Australian legal system.

    Can minors be considered for the Spent conviction scheme?

    Yes, minors can have their offences spent and therefore not appear on their criminal record if they satisfy the court orders at conviction, or those stated under the Spent convictions scheme of the State. Some of the conditions are;

    If the court finds the minor guilty but records no conviction, they can apply to have their offence Spent.

    Where the court records a conviction against the individual, they must satisfy a “waiting period” stipulated by legislation.

    Satisfy additional "good behaviour" requirements like; community service, therapy, rehab programs, and so on.

    What is a waiting period?

    The waiting period is a period when a convicted individual must not get another conviction by a court or be free from crime. The period is usually 5 consecutive years for minors (3 years in NSW), and 10 years for adults.

    The waiting period will restart if the individual gets another conviction within that time. It does not matter if the new conviction is related to the previous conviction. However, the period completes automatically after this period elapses.

    The waiting period is called by various names across the States and territories in Australia. Some of them include;

    • Rehabilitation period
    • Crime-free period
    • Period of good behaviour
    • Qualification period

    What does a Spent Conviction mean across Australia?

    The Australian legislation on Spent convictions varies across the States and Territories. Similarly, the Commonwealth law applies in all matters related to the federal government and the Commonwealth.

    Commonwealth

    All general laws of the Australian Spent convictions scheme apply in any Commonwealth jurisdiction or role.

    A minor can have their offence Spent and therefore not appear on their criminal record check when they satisfy 5 years of good behaviour without another conviction. It is 10 years otherwise.

    Offences can be spent if;

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

    Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

    Minors convicted in the ACT will have their offences Spent once they complete a “waiting period” of 5 years. Otherwise, it is 10 years (for adults).

    However, it follows that;

      ✔ The conviction does not carry an imprisonment term over 6 months

      ✔ The conviction must not be for a sexually related offence

      ✔ It must not be an offence against corporate bodies

      ✔ Must not be convictions prescribed by regulations

    New South Wales (NSW)

    The Criminal record Acts of 1991 guides all Spent conviction applications and implementation in NSW. Minors can have their offences Spent in NSW if they satisfy;

    • 3 consecutive years of good behaviour. It is 10 years for adults
    • They should not get another conviction during this period
    • The conviction should not be for a sexual offence
    • The conviction must not be against prescribed Spent convictions

    An offence being spent in NSW will mean that it will longer appear on a national police check in NSW.

    South Australia (SA)

    The Spent Convictions Act of 2009 in SA details how minors can clear their SA convictions.

    The main points for clearing your convictions as a minor are;

    Adhering to 5 years "qualification period” after a conviction; Otherwise 10 years for adults. Given this is satisfied, the criminal offence will not appear on a person's police background check in SA.

    The other conditions must also be satisfied;

    • All convictions that attract more than 12 months (adults) or 2 years (juvenile) sentencing are exempted from the Spent convictions scheme.
    • The offences that may trigger a restart do not include offences where the penalty is $500 or less

    Victoria (VIC)

    Currently, there is no State based spent convictions scheme in Victoria to clear your police criminal records in VIC. However, the VIC police force adheres to a public release policy as an informal Spent conviction scheme.

    However, this scheme still follows the generic "5-year crime-free" period.

    Minors can visit the local VIC Police office to get more info on the scheme and make an application. Given this is satisfied, criminal convictions will not appear on a VIC police background check.

    Queensland (QLD)

    Minors in Queensland may have their offences spent under the Criminal Law (Rehabilitation of offenders) Act of 1986.

    However, before their offences can be eligible, the person must;

    • Complete the prescribed rehabilitation period (where issued)
    • Or the charges dropped, quashed or ruled out
    • Obtain a pardon of the offence from the court

    QLD spent convictions legislation currently outlines that the “rehabilitation period” is 5 years for minors or those convicted in a juvenile court. Otherwise, it is a 10 years crime-free/rehabilitation period for adults.

    Tasmania (TAS)

    Under the Annulled Act of 2003, minors can have their “eligible offences” spent and out of their Tasmania police criminal records check certificate.

    However, it follows that they must satisfy a 5-year waiting period and must not re-offend during this time.

    Further measures may apply depending on the severity of the offence, like;

    • Sexually related offences
    • Offence against corporate bodies

    Northern Territory (NT)

    Minors in NT who want to have their “eligible offences” spent must satisfy a “crime-free” period of 5 years without a relapse.

    However, these rules do not apply to prohibited offences - these offences no matter how old are never spent. The Spent Conviction Act in NT governs all applications of the scheme and works to remove old and eligible offences from a person’s police background check in NT.

    Western Australia (WA)

    Minors in WA can apply to have their offences Spent in WA under the WA Spent conviction scheme if their application is successful in the WA Magistrate court.

    However, before they make an application to clear their convictions, they must;

    Satisfy a "crime-free" period of 5 years if convicted as minors. Otherwise, it is 10 years.

    The offence must not be prohibited in the WA spent convictions Scheme.

    Given the above conditions are satisfied, certain offences can then be removed from the person’s criminal background check in WA.

    Wrapping Up

    As a minor, having your conviction spent can be one of the good things that can happen. It can save you from potential “discrimination” some people with a police record may come across in various civil sectors.

    Furthermore, it means that you will not have to disclose the details of the conviction, nor even refer to it in any situation except where the court mandates it.

    The happy citizen has no disclosable court outcomes (NDCOs) in their updated police background check results.

    Minors can apply for a police check with "written consent" from their guardian. You can apply online via Australia National Character Check.

    Sources

    Commonwealth of Australia (Cth) - Section 85ZV of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth - http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ca191482/s85zv.html

    Australian Capital Territory (ACT) - Spent Convictions Act 2000 - https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/2000-48

    New South Wales (NSW) - Criminal Records Act 1991 - https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/whole/html/inforce/current/act-1991-008

    South Australia (SA) - Spent Convictions Act 2009 -https://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/LZ/C/A/SPENT%20CONVICTIONS%20ACT%202009.aspx

    Victoria (VIC) - Spent Convictions Act 2021 - https://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/as-made/acts/spent-convictions-act-2021

    Queensland (QLD) - Criminal Law (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act 1986 - https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-1986-020

    Tasmania (TAS) - Annulled Convictions Act 2003 - https://www.legislation.tas.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-2003-046

    Northern Territory (NT) - Criminal Records Spent Convictions Act 1992 - https://legislation.nt.gov.au/en/Legislation/CRIMINAL-RECORDS-SPENT-CONVICTIONS-ACT-1992

    Western Australia (WA) - Spent Convictions Act 1988 - https://www.legislation.wa.gov.au/legislation/statutes.nsf/main_mrtitle_912_homepage.html

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