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  • What does a police check show?

    If you have applied for the Police Check in Australia, you may experience this slight tremor of expectancy that runs through thousands of other applicants like you. While this is normal for one expecting that would play a huge role in their career and prospects, it is not something you will need after a call if you already know what to expect.

    The focus lens of a Police Check result is usually highlighted to the candidate's records with the Australian Courts and their criminal database. The Check result is a standard and valid way for decision-makers, employers and other decision makers to assess how a candidate is "interacting" with the Australian laws. The Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCO) of the candidate correctly captures the conviction or relevant information of the candidate.

    A national police check can be obtained online via the Australian National Character Check (ANCC) website. Most national police checks are dispatched to applicants within 24 to 48 hours, with the remainder that get referred for manual processing taking longer.

    Below we outline what shows up on a police check or Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check in Australia.

    What is a Disclosable Court Outcome?

    When your Police Check result returns with a Disclosable Court Outcome (DCO), it means some convictions can be released about the person. The Disclosable Court Outcomes are the records on a candidate’s criminal history that the State regulation deems releasable.

    The Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCO) details are decisions of a court issued by the Magistrate or a Judge. These include;

    • Court Convictions

    All records of a court conviction against a person will appear on their criminal history in Australia. It does not matter how severe or minor the offence was or the circumstances around such convictions.

    If the candidate served imprisonment, it will appear on the Police Check, including the imprisonment term's length.

    • Finding of guilt

    The Court may find you guilty of an offence but opt against a sentence; this falls under the non-conviction sentencing. All findings of guilt appear on the Police Check Australia unless the Court rules the record out of the person's criminal history.

    • Pending Charges

    If you have a pending criminal charge in Court, it will appear on your Police Check certificate as a DCO. Usually, the jurisdiction decides whether such records are relevant to the ongoing Check and may include them in the candidate's records.

    • Good Behaviour Bond

    Unless your bond period has expired, the details of the Good Behaviour Bond will appear on the Police Check certificate. It also includes all details that led to the bond and the conditions of the bond.

    • All other Unspent convictions

    The standard details of your Police Check certificate are the unspent convictions in your criminal records. As long as any of your offences are not spent, they will appear on your Police Check certificate. Also, this includes violations that can never be Spent regardless of the jurisdiction or rules that apply.

    Some examples of the records on a DCO can include Convictions for;

    Does an Overseas conviction appear on my Police Check?

    The Police Check is a nationally coordinated criminal history check relating to the candidate’s interactions with Australian law. An overseas conviction will not appear on your Police Check unless the process involves the Australian laws in some ways.

    Organisations that want to assess a candidate's overseas conviction must explore other means, usually through the country's liaison or consulate office in Australia.

    The fact that a candidate’s record does not appear on the Police Check does not mean they should get away with their crimes in an overseas country.

    What does not show up on my Police Check in Australia?

    Knowing what does not show up on the Police Check result is helpful for candidates to analyse the details if their Check is better. Some applicants are surprised about the consequences of their Police Check mainly because of records they expected but don't show up.

    For example, traffic offences settled by infringement notice or Tickets will not appear on the Police Check as long as it is settled within the given time and did not end up in Court. Only violations that end up in Court with a conviction or sentencing usually appear on the Police Check.

    Some “violations” that will not show up in your Police Check include;

    The Court can issue a diversionary program as an appropriate penalty for an offence rather than convictions or sentencing. In most cases, if the Court considers a sentence too harsh, it will issue diversionary programs in its case.

    The Court may order a;

    • Good Behaviour Bond (some will show up on a police check whilst others will not),
    • Community service under a Community correction officer.

    • Inconclusive or Dropped Charges

    Not all charges prosecuted in Court reach a definite end or even finish. Sometimes, the prosecutors are unable to provide substantial evidence to prove the guilt. If the Court considers the court proceeding stale and pointless, they can close the case and consider it inconclusive.

    However, If the Charges are dropped, it does not necessarily mean the defendant is free; it means the Court has closed that particular case/matter. And there will be no record of the matter on the Australian Criminal Database.

    • Penalties imposed by other societies

    Penalties from a professional body cannot cause you to have a record unless the matter is settled in Court. It corroborates that only an Australian Law Court can find you guilty of an offence, not a panel/court by an organisation or society.

    It does not matter the pedigree or influence of the group or association in Australia; only the Australian Legal Courts can alter your criminal records.

    • Minor traffic infringements settled outside of the Court

    Most of the traffic offences settled in Australia are not settled in a court but by infringements/tickets. It will be a waste of resources to charge people to Court over minor infractions and traffic offences.

    When the Police issue a fine, it can be settled on the spot. However, if the defendant contests it, they will have to appear before a court to prove their innocence.

    Does my Police Check certificate show a “Pass/Fail”?

    No, there is nothing like a pass/fail when it comes to Police Check results in Australia. However, people use these terms commonly to distinguish between a result that has the DCO or not.

    You cannot pass or fail a Police Check until you know how the requesting party will interpret the results. Most decision-makers don't only look at the number of convictions a candidate has; they also consider other factors like;

    Furthermore, the Criminal Background Check may not always be the ultimate background check or assessment all decision-makers use. It may be possible to get the role or application if you qualify in other aspects.

    What is the Spent Convictions Scheme in Australia?

    The Spent convictions scheme is present across all jurisdictions in Australia. Under this Scheme, eligible offences will be cleared of a person's record once they satisfy the;

    • Good Behaviour Period,
    • Original conditions/punishments the court issues
    • Other requirements of the Scheme.

    It is important to note that the Spent Convictions Scheme legislation of various Australian States and Territories only applies to minor offences or Summary offences with no or short imprisonment times.

    Serious indictable crimes with long associated imprisonment terms do not qualify for the spent convictions scheme and those offences will always show up on an applicant’s criminal history check result.

    What are eligible convictions?

    Not all offences qualify for the Spent Convictions Scheme in Australia; only certain offences (minor) can be wiped off from the criminal records. Usually, the offences that qualify for the Scheme are those handled in a Magistrate Court that did not attract an imprisonment term more significant than 30 months (this is lesser in some states).

    It means some of these offences will never be spent regardless of the period that elapses since their conviction;

    • Murder,
    • Manslaughter,
    • Sexually related offences,
    • Fraud against corporate bodies or public funds,
    • Armed/Aggravated Robbery,
    • Aggravated assault causing permanent damage.
    • Other convictions as stipulated by law.

    What is a Good Behaviour Period?

    A certain number of consecutive years a person must observe after their conviction with total civil obedience. During this period, the offender must not get another sentence or disobey any other bond rules.

    If the offender can satisfy this period and see it expire without getting another conviction, the eligible offence will be wiped out.

    The Good Behaviour Period in Australia is;

    It also follows that;

    • The Good Behaviour Period commences after an imprisonment term (where the Court orders a prison sentencing)
    • The offender must not get a conviction for another offence unless the period restarts.
    • The offender must satisfy all other court conditions or penalties imposed for the offence; fines, community service, etc.

    What happens if my offences become spent?

    The most noticeable benefit of the Spent Convictions Scheme is that it no longer appears on your Police Check in Australia forever. Only the candidate will be aware of their Spent Convictions, and only they can give consent to either disclose it or not unless they are required to do so by law.

    You also have the right to non-disclosure of your Spent Convictions. You don’t have to disclose the records to even an employer in an interview.

    An employer cannot evaluate you by your spent convictions, especially if it is not relevant to the role.

    How long does the record on my Police Check last?

    A police check is a point-in-time check. The results last as long as you and the requesting party are fine with it. However, as a person's criminal record is subject to change, most employers request renewals of your Police Check within respectable periods of time.

    For new candidates, most employers or decision makers do not accept Police Check certificates older than three months from the day of issue. Others may extend this time period to six months, however time periods for the validity of a police check will depend on the decision maker and their risk mitigation policies. For existing employees, most organisations require annual renewals.

    What other factor affects the details of my Police Check result?

    There is no physical factor or application means that affect your Police Check result in Australia. The result from the Check is only a reflection of the details of your criminal records.

    Only the disclosable records on your criminal records in Australia will appear on the Police Check certificate.

    How can I obtain a national police 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 and informed consent 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 of approval prior to being granted access to ANCC’s business portal for the purpose of criminal history checks.

    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.

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