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How far back does a police check go in Australia?

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It is harder for a conviction to escape being listed on a criminal record check result, except where special State legislation or the Spent Convictions scheme applies. In most circumstances, police check reports return complete with a comprehensive list of all the pending charges, court convictions, finding of guilt and sentencing of the applicant.

What does a police check result contain?

A result contains all finding of guilt, sentencing and other convictions of an individual. This report is unlimited by the State/Territory where the offence or when the crime is committed. Therefore, a criminal check result can go as far back as possible as long as the individual is found guilty of the offence.

Furthermore, other conditions can make older convictions reflect on your police history check result. Some of them are;

What are Spent convictions and offences?

The Australian/Commonwealth legislation on criminal clearance checks offer applicants some kind of "way out" on older and "less serious" convictions in their police checks. It is unfair to hold a conviction of traffic infractions over 10 years ago against an individual compared to a child abuser.

Offences that qualify for this “pardon” scheme are expunged from the individual’s criminal records. These offences are also known as the Spent Convictions.

However, not all convictions may qualify under the Spent Convictions Scheme/Act. Only offences where some conditions are satisfied as required or stipulated by the court.

Conditions that are covered under this scheme are;

What qualifies an offence as a Spent?

The scheme proposes various ways by which an offence may be “spent”. Some of them include;

  1. The individual is granted pardon for reasons other than that of a "wrongful conviction".
  2. The individual's conviction did not attract sentencing for more than 30 months (commonwealth)
  3. Period of "good behaviour" or waiting period for the individual ends without another conviction.

The requirements for an offence to qualify as the Spent Convictions Scheme generally are;

It also follows that;

Yet, some offences are never considered “Spent”. These offences are too “serious”, and will be revealed in the Police Check results no matter how old. Some of these offences are;

How do I know the convictions on my police history check?

You cannot be sure of the convictions on your record without obtaining it. The surest way of planning with your criminal records in consideration is by applying for a background check. However, applying is not as hard as it seems.

Are Police Checks issued by the Police authorities? Yes, they are issued by a central government database and in some instances are vetted by state and territory police agencies if referred for manual processing.

Must you visit a local Police branch to obtain it? No

A convenient method to obtain a criminal check is; applying for a criminal record check online via Australian National character Check (ANCC).

The process is 100% online and takes less than 12 minutes to complete from anywhere as long as there is an internet connection.

Applicants who go via the online method get their result delivered to their email mostly within 24 hours unless the check gets referred for manual processing by the central government database.

What convictions should I accept on my police check normally?

Convictions that will generally always show up on a police check result unless if the spent convictions rules apply include: