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  • Applying for spent conviction in Western Australia WA

    It is now common for organisations to request national police checks from candidates during recruitment. This is particularly common where the role entails contact with vulnerable populations or a level of trust.

    Many prospective employees try hard to ensure a clean record to be eligible for all qualifications during employment. However, what happens to those who have criminal convictions in WA? How can WA based applicants apply to have their old convictions removed from their criminal records? The information below explains how.

    Can offences be removed from an applicant’s Police Check result?

    In some State/territory, these "minor offences" are removed/pardoned from the applicant's police check results automatically. This scheme is known as Spent Convictions Scheme legislation and is subject to State legislation for each Australian state and territory. It is unfair to hold down an applicant with "lesser convictions" equally with one who was convicted of a grave offence. The scheme also helps protect employees from employment prejudice.

    In WA, applicants need to apply to the WA police force to have their convictions to be classified as “spent” after a certain time period has lapsed as per the rules of the spent convictions scheme in WA.

    Therefore, if an applicant is applying for a police background check in WA and would like their old convictions to be removed, they must make an application to the WA police force for this.

    How can I apply to get an offence spent in WA?

    Individuals can apply through the commissioner of Police in the State of WA to have their “lesser” conviction spent if they have followed all prescribed conditions.

    The following link to the WA government website can be used for the purpose of applying for a conviction to be spent in the state of Westeran Australia (WA) - https://www.wa.gov.au/service/justice/criminal-law/apply-spent-conviction

    Convictions can also be Spent through the court sentencing or pronouncement under the Sentencing Act of 1995 and Convictions Act of 1988.

    In applying for a national criminal history check, it updates all your criminal history. An updated police check removes all convictions granted as "spent". However, there is a fee to obtain an updated check.

    Furthermore, there is a law that allows individuals to apply immediately for their offences to be spent. It follows that such offence(s) are not recorded as a conviction in the sentencing.

    What are the benefits of applying for your offence to be spent in WA?

    Are you planning on applying for a role or accreditation anytime soon? Have you been stalling to apply for some of your offences to be spent?

    Here are some of the benefits you get if the State orders your offences Spent;

    • It is removed from your background check results
    • In WA, most of your offences that meet the general spent convictions scheme criteria will be displayed in your criminal history check if you do not apply for them to be spent.

      However, if your application is successful for your offence to be spent, it will not be released in your updated WA police clearance results. Therefore it will be oblivious to employers both now and in the future.

    • You are not obligated to disclose them (Right to silence)
    • Except in extreme conditions, you are under no obligation to disclose any conviction that the State has ordered spent. If an employer asks about such offences, you are not breaking any law if you keep mute.

      However, where such offences are relevant to the roles you apply for, it may be unlawful to hide them from the public. This is why some offences will never qualify as spent offences.

    • Finally, start on a clean slate
    • When an offence is ordered by the court/Police authority, it is synonymous with starting life on a clean slate. It has no allusions to past convictions, no prejudice, no recurring history, all of it is wiped off.

      At last, that person is free from possible discrimination, segregation or denials from employers.

    Can anyone have their convictions spent in WA?

    In most circumstances, if you live in Western Australia (WA) and any of the convictions on your records qualify for a spent convictions scheme (e.g. non serious offences) then you can apply as long as the waiting period has passed.

    Applicants must have satisfied a "waiting period". During this period, they must not get another conviction. The periods in WA are;

    • 5 years for juvenile convictions
    • 10 years for adult convictions

    However, you cannot be eligible for the spent convictions scheme if the conviction carries a life sentencing.

    Which offences are usually excluded from the Spent Convictions Scheme?

    As you may have noticed above, not all convictions may qualify for the spent convictions scheme and will therefore be a permanent record. Some offences are considered by the state too "serious” to be pardoned or removed from an individual’s police background records.

    Some of these convictions are;

    • A conviction that leads to sentencing and imprisonment (especially over 12 months; suspended or served)
    • Convictions that lead to an intensive supervision order on the person
    • Convictions against corporate bodies and organisations
    • Convictions for sexual assault, rape, child violation, terrorism or that leads to sentencing

    Some of these convictions above can never qualify to be part of the spent convictions scheme in WA or even the Commonwealth of Australia.

    Generally, Western Australia categorises “lesser” and “serious” offences by;

      ✔ A “lesser offence” attracts an imprisonment term of fewer than 12 months or a fine of less than $15 000.

      ✔ Any offence apart from this is a "serious" offence i.e. more than $15 000 dollars of fine and over 1-year imprisonment, is considered a "serious" offence

    Can serious offences be “spent”?

    For serious offences that are dealt with in the legal court (District/Supreme), all applications for the conviction to be “spent” should be done through the court itself.

    However, if a judge has refused to make a spent conviction order for that offence within the last two years, you cannot apply within that period.

    You should put in an application for a spent offence after 10 years of “good behaviour” plus the length of the term if an imprisonment term is imposed. The length of term is the actual imprisonment term given by the court rather than the actual time spent in prison.

    What do you need to apply for the Spent conviction scheme in WA?

    Before applying for your offence to become spent, there are some documents you must prepare;

      Obtain a copy of your Criminal History

      It serves as the legal history document in the court about your prior offences. It must be as recent as when you want to apply for the Spent convictions scheme.

      In WA, you can obtain a copy of your police criminal check from the WA police force or from online agencies like Australian National Character Check (ANCC).

      Prepare your letters, references and reports

      Prep and get friends who will stand and reference you before the court, and testify to your character.

      You may need a work-related character reference which you will submit to the court or reference.

      If the conviction was related to drug abuse, alcohol and co, you will need to provide a doctor’s report and tests. The tests should ascertain you have no dependence or medical disorder from the drugs you abuse.

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