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  • Do your underage convictions show up on a police check?

    All offences that you receive court convictions for are recorded in your criminal history. The Police Check is a projection of the Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCO) in your criminal history.

    When the Court convicts a juvenile for an offence, it goes into a special kind of record; the Youth records. The details in a youth record remain there until some legal programs or schemes erase such records.

    The fact that a person was a child (between 10 – 17) years at the time of the offence is no excuse for a court conviction. The Court may sentence them to a juvenile/Control order (a form of imprisonment) for a grievous offence pending when they become an adult.

    Do the Underage convictions enter the Police Check?

    There are many errors in theories that; "the law erases underage conviction records when the offender becomes 18 years". Your criminal records don't just disappear into thin air regardless of the type of Court or sentencing you get as a youth. The only way to be free from your criminal history is through dedicated legal schemes or pardons.

    A person with an underage conviction in their Youth records will still have these records on their Adult criminal history check when they become legal adults.

    If the records of a person are erased after they become legal adults, it means they qualified for any of the legal schemes as stipulated by legislation. An excellent example of such a Scheme is the Spent Convictions Scheme.

    If the offence is a severe one under the legislation, or is not eligible for any special scheme by the Law, such offences will continue to the adult records and remain there for life.

    How do I avoid an underage Criminal Conviction?

    If you are (juvenile) or your ward has a criminal charge, you can apply to the judge for any possible legal pardon or alternative sentencing.

    The Magistrate highly considers minors rather than older offenders for alternative sentencing. However, the Court may only grant such sentences if the offence is not indictable or aggravated.

    Who is a minor under Australian Law?

    Many states have varying age ranges that qualify a person as a minor (consent age) under the Law. However, it is a nationwide rule that every charge for a person under 18 will be treated in a juvenile or Youth Court.

    The age determining which Court to convict an individual should not be mistaken as other ages of consent. These ages are slightly different depending on the jurisdiction of the matter.

    What is the Spent Convictions Scheme?

    Under special provisions available in all States and Territories of Australia, the "eligible offences" in a criminal record can be erased. These erased offences will no longer appear in their criminal background check records.

    However, not all convictions can be expunged from a person's criminal record. The Scheme outlines certain conditions that can make an offence Spent.

    It includes;

    • The offender must have lived a crime-free period for a specific duration,
    • The offender did not re-offend during the crime-free period,
    • The offence did not incur a penalty greater than 30 months imprisonment.

    What is a Crime Free period?

    Depending on the States use of the term, it may be called;

    • Rehabilitation period,
    • Waiting period,
    • Good behaviour period.

    As the name suggests, the offender must show evidence of good citizenship and obedience. The offender must not get another conviction, especially during this period. The offender may also engage in other community services and projects to potentially lessen the effects of their offence.

    If the offender reoffends during this period, the crime-free period restarts.

    What is the duration of a waiting period?

    Generally, the waiting period is some consecutive years of good behaviour. And on expiration, the eligible offences will be automatically removed from the person's conviction records.

    The period is;

    • Ten years for convictions received in an adult court or as an adult
    • Five years for convictions obtained in a juvenile court or as a child. This period is three years under the NSW jurisdictions.

    In WA, applicants must apply to have their convictions spent as they do not get removed from an individual’s record automatically after the conditions have been satisfied.

    Will a Juvenile appear before an adult court?

    Usually, juveniles or Youth have special courts in Australia that hear all offences relating to a young offender. However, a minor can appear before an adult court depending on the proceedings at the Court.

    Also, severe indictable offences like Murder, Rape, Manslaughter or Fraud cannot be heard in a Youth Court. The Magistrate or Local Court must commit such a matter to the Supreme Court for sentencing.

    What is a Youth Court?

    These are courts under the jurisdiction of a Magistrate that hears offences relating to juveniles and Youth. The sentencing a Magistrate issues at the end of a hearing will be recorded in the Youth Criminal records.

    The convictions in a Youth criminal record will not be erased automatically even if the offender turns 18. Offences in a Youth record will enter the person’s adult records once they become legal adults.

    The only way such records will be erased from the criminal records is to satisfy all the Spent offences Scheme conditions.

    What penalties does the Magistrate impose in a Youth Court?

    The Magistrate will consider lots of factors before sentencing a young offender. Penalties imposed in Youth courts are generally not as severe as those in adult courts or higher courts.

    The Court may even issue a rehabilitation order as an alternative to sentencing. In the Youth Court, it is all about deterring and reforming the young offenders. For minor offences with less impact, the Court may issue only a warning with or without fines.

    What other offences show up on a Police Check?

    Asides from your underage convictions that are transferred to your adult records, all other convictions you received as an adult will appear in your criminal record check records.

    Some of the categories for the offences that show in a police check are;

    Does a Police warning count as an underage conviction?

    For certain minor offences, the Police/Court may issue a warning to the juvenile. A Police warning/caution is not the same as a conviction record.

    The Police issue cautions where the offence is convictable but of little significance to the Law. Police cautions also serve as a better deterrents to juveniles, as it contains;

    • Details of their offence,
    • Conditions that they must follow,
    • Explanations of the Law and the offence.

    The Police may invite the parents or guardians of the child when issuing them a caution. The Police may also require that the child offender offer some form of mitigating actions for their offence.

    A Caution is not the same as a court sentencing and will not show in a Youth record or the adult criminal history check records. However, the Police’s internal records will contain the history of all a person’s caution.

    Can an Underage Criminal record affect me?

    The underage criminal records can remain in a person’s criminal history far into their adulthood. Depending on the severity of the offence and the sentencing the Magistrate imposes, your underage records may hinder you in adulthood.


    • A show of irresponsibility

    People who assess a Police Check for any reason may consider a conviction a show of responsibility depending on the type of offence that you were convicted for and it’s inherent relationship to the job role.


    • Student/adult applications

    Also, an underage conviction can affect a young person applying for an internship. Working for experiences in large corporations is one of the dream prerequisites for the career ladder. An underage serious conviction may take you off that ladder faster than you expect.


    • Disqualification in certain academies

    When applying to schools, they may conduct a background check of you. Schools want to maintain their academies from all negative PR and influences. An underage conviction can be a hindrance in your academic pursuits, particularly in health related study fields where the applicant has contact with vulnerable people.

    Can an underage conviction be spent?

    Yes, your underage conviction can be erased from your police check if you meet the conditions. As a Youth, you must avoid further infractions or court convictions for a minimum of 5 years (3 for youth offenders in NSW).

    • If your “eligible offences” still reflect after this period, or
    • You reside in Western Australia,

    You can apply to the Court or the relevant authority in your State or Territory to have your convictions spent.

    What are the benefits of having your convictions Spent?

    • Spent convictions do not show up on a Police Check

    If your underage convictions become spent, they will no longer show in your Police Check when applying for employment or volunteering.

    • You have the right to silence.

    Another benefit of having your conviction spent is that you do not have to disclose details of the record to anyone. If an employer requests a conviction (now spent), you can deny having such a conviction.

    The only time you cannot do this is if you are mandated by the Court or the law to reveal the details of your conviction.

    How can I obtain a national criminal history check?

    Individuals

    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.

    Sources

    Western Australia Government (Apply for a Spent Conviction) - https://www.wa.gov.au/service/justice/criminal-law/apply-spent-conviction

    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

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