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Home Blog Spent Convictions Guidelines in Australia

Spent Convictions Guidelines in Australia

Many people erroneously think that all life misgivings are displayed in a Police Check. A Police Check does not feature convictions by a foreign jurisdiction, a social/political group, or other offences that qualify as Spent Charges.

In the Commonwealth of Australia’s Spent Convictions Scheme, convictions for less serious offences may qualify as Spent. Spent convictions are excluded from a person's Police criminal records and are guided by the State legislation and body.

However, Spent offences may also vary among the States and Territories in Australia depending on the relevant place.

Convictions that are covered under this scheme are;

When is an offence considered as Spent?

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

  1. The individual is granted a pardon for a reason other than that of a "wrongful conviction".
  2. The individual was not sentenced to prison for more than 30 months (commonwealth)
  3. Period of "good behaviour" or waiting period has ended without another conviction

What is a Period of "good behaviour" (commonwealth)?

If a juvenile convicted, or a person is convicted by a juvenile court, the waiting period is 5 years. If an adult is convicted or an individual gets a conviction in an adult court, they have a waiting period of 10 years.

However, if an individual gets a conviction within this waiting period, he or she will lose the right to have the running conviction treated as “spent”. Yet, the waiting period does not apply to offences that are either pardoned or quashed.

Right to “silence” (Non-disclosure)

The Spent convictions scheme allows an individual to remain silent about a conviction if they're spent, pardoned or quashed. The individual will not be obligated by any authority to disclose the details of this conviction be it federal, state, territory or foreign offences.

In summary, when your convictions get scrapped, you can claim on oath that you have no previous conviction.

Can details of my Spent convictions be disclosed by others?

It will become unlawful to any organisation, individual or group to reveal details of Spent convictions if the owner has a “right to non-disclosure”.

Furthermore, even if they get details of the Spent conviction, it will not be a criterion to judge your eligibility for the role/purpose you applied for.

However, while Spent conviction legislation may exist in all States, the details may not always be interchangeable. For example, an offence that is spent in Queenslandmay be displayed in a Police Check in Tasmania

To avoid such confusions when you apply for a Police Check in Australia, here are some of the details of the Spent conviction scheme in the different States;

Australian Capital Territory

In the ACT, a conviction becomes Spent once the “waiting period” has elapsed;


New South Wales

The Spent conviction serves to mitigate the effect a Police Check provided in the state of NSW may have on individual future endeavours. It is governed by the Criminal record acts of 1991.

Individuals will have their “minor offences” removed from their Police Check on completion of their “waiting period”.

The waiting period for convictions in NSW is;3 consecutive years of good behaviour for juveniles/children

South Australia

An offence can be Spent in SA where the court;

Where the waiting period for minor convictions elapse;


While Victoria does not have a State-based convictions scheme, Disclosures/Interpretation of convictions on official documents are permitted as longas they are lawful and ethical. This does not consider the time that has elapsed.

Furthermore, the Victorian Police adhere only to a Public Release Policy as an informal form of discretion on Victorian Police checks. It is mostly similar to the Commonwealth Spent Convictions Scheme.

Some of the practice includes;

However, exceptions to this practice include where the police Check is for;


Offences will be removed from an applicant’s QLD based Police Check result if they;

The rehabilitation period is;



Under the annulled convictions Act of 2003, some minor offences are expunged from an applicant's Criminal History records/Police Check Tasmania.

The conditions for qualifying for this scheme are similar to most States;

The “waiting period” has elapsed without further convictions. The period is;

Northern Territory

The Spent convictions Act governs all about Spent conviction in NT. Here, the commonwealth scheme on Spent conviction may also apply in cases with federal aspects.

Offences can become Spent if they pass the “Crime-free” period for this State. This period is the same as the waiting period;

However, these rules are useless where the conviction has;

Western Australia

The Spent Convictions Acts of 1988 (WA) allows certain offences (lesser offences) tobe Spent. However, the offender must satisfy certain conditions, including proving acrime-free period. These Spent offences do not show in WA based police clearance checks.

The “Crime free” period is

In WA, the current process stipulates that individuals must apply to the WA police tohave their conviction classified as a spent conviction.

Western Australia considers a “lesser offence” as one that attracts an imprisonmentterm of fewer than 12 months or a fine of less than $15 000.

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

Are there exclusions to Spent convictions and disclosure?

Other exclusions may apply to the disclosure of an applicant's criminal records depending on the State legislation. Some of them are;

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