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  • Spent Convictions in Western Australia (WA)

    Although a Spent conviction does not remove or even mitigate the penalty of a conviction, it clears the record off from your police checks. When you apply for an updated one from the ANCC, that conviction will no longer be there.

    The Spent conviction scheme is such benevolent legislation in the WA under the Spent convictions Act of 1988. It allows convictions for lesser offences to be cleared from a person's national criminal record check in WA if they satisfy prescribed conditions and/or periods.

    Why you should apply for your convictions to be spent

    Having a conviction against your criminal records can make life a little hard. Certain offences in your records make employers and organisations opt against employing you even when you qualify in other aspects.

    If you have certain convictions, you can be denied an accreditation or have a license application turned down. However, if these offences become "spent", you enjoy the rights of;

    • No disclosure

    Those who have certain convictions cleared from their criminal records are not bound to disclose the conviction. Even if the party asks about the offence, you can choose to be mute about it.

    It means that even though the conviction may remain in the police records or (History for court), it will not show in an updated national police check.

    • Other parties cannot access the records

    The details of your Spent convictions in WA is a private matter, and only you can give consent on disclosure, including to whom, how, and when.

    However, if the court or State considers it crucial to the role, the Spent convictions records are disclosed. The most court-sanctioned disclosure applies in sensitive roles and operations.

    How to apply for a Spent conviction in WA

    Unlike other States/Territories in Australia, offences are not Spent automatically in WA. Applicants must make an application to the WA police force to apply for a conviction to be spent in WA.

    1. If no conviction is recorded
    2. If the court finds the offender guilty but records no conviction, they can apply immediately to have their offence spent. This feature falls under the Sentencing Act WA and stipulates the court cannot make a Spent conviction order unless

      It considers the offender not to relapse to such an offence. The clause is elicited where;

      • If the offence is trivial
      • Considering the previous good character of the offender
      • The adverse effects such conviction can have on their criminal records (especially for trivial offences)
    3. For “serious” offences
    4. The applicant must apply to the Police Commissioner in the jurisdiction to have the conviction removed from their records. However, for offences dealt with in the District/Supreme court, the application must be made to that court to have the offence spent.

    Guidelines for Spent conviction applications

    Before you apply to have an offence Spent, a crime-free period of 10 years should elapse since you were convicted. It is one of the basic conditions for applying for the spent convictions.

    During the waiting period, you should not get another conviction, it restarts the period automatically.

    If an imprisonment term is imposed with the conviction, the waiting period commences at the end of the prison term. Otherwise, the waiting period begins from the point the court gives the conviction.

    Which Convictions are eligible to be Spent in WA?

    As benign as the Spent convictions scheme in WA is, it does not cover “serious” offences. Individuals with such convictions are considered potentially harmful or a "liability" to the community's security.

    Serious conviction;

    Any conviction that attracts a fine of $15 000 or more or an imprisonment term of more than 1 year is serious.

    For these offences, the offender must apply to the district or supreme court that ordered the conviction.


    Lesser convictions

    These convictions attract a fine of less than $15 000 or an imprisonment term of less than 1 year. Offenders can apply to the WA Police to have any eligible conviction Spent. The application comes at no fee.

    Also, the person with such convictions can apply for a WA National Police certificate. This request automatically updates an individual's criminal records, including updating their Spent convictions.

    Convictions not spent immediately;

    The convictions which do not qualify for either the state or commonwealth Spent convictions scheme includes;

    • Convictions for sexually related offences
    • Convictions against corporate entities
    • Convictions where an intensive supervision order is imposed
    • Convictions where a lengthy imprisonment term is given; It doesn’t matter if it is to be served immediately or suspended term

    However, Convictions for offences that incur penalties such as most imprisonment longer than 6 months can never be Spent.

    Where you may need to reveal a Spent conviction

    Although the Spent Conviction Acts criminalises indiscriminate disclosure of a Spent conviction, there are some exceptions.

    If the individual applies for roles in any of these positions, they must reveal details of the "related" Spent convictions.

    Does a Spent conviction affect my sentencing?

    Any additional penalty that comes with your offence does not get worse or better if the conviction becomes Spent. The offender must still satisfy the conditions of the penalty.

    These penalties include;

    • Paying court fines or costs or compensation orders
    • Adhering to a community-based order
    • Having a driver license withdrawn or suspended
    • Entering the reported offender list (having a parole officer, and so on)

    Can I apply for a Spent conviction for a Commonwealth offence?

    The court may grant your Commonwealth offence as Spent under the section 19B order. However, the court considers a lot of criteria before granting a section 19B. The proposed spent offence must also fall under the guidelines of the Commonwealth Spent convictions Scheme.

    How can I apply for a Police Check certificate WA?

    The surest way to confirm that a spent offence is off your police criminal records is by obtaining a Police Check. The NPC is a nationwide document that contains all the updated conviction history of the individual without their Spent convictions under the State legislation.

    Australian National Character Check offers applicants a convenient method of applying for national police checks online. Most applicants receive their checks within 24 hours with the remaining who get referred for manual processing taking up to 15+ business days.

    Sources

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

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

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