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Spent Convictions Scheme

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Although a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check reveals Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCOs) of an individual, not all offences may be revealed in the check. This depends largely on the purpose of the check being obtained.

Though Criminal Background Checks are meant to protect the community, the vulnerable, citizens, resources and the state, it should not become a basis for discrimination towards individuals (who failed their check). This is one of the objectives of the Spent Convictions Scheme.

Disclaimer: The information below is general and should not be relied upon to determine whether or not a conviction or finding of guilt will or will not be disclosed on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check (Police Check) provided by Australian National Character Check™. Where there is any doubt or confusion, you should first contact the Criminal Records section in the Police service of the State or Territory where the offence in question occurred and enquire as to whether the matter will be disclosed in a Police Check or not.

Page Contents

What is the Spent Convictions Scheme?

This scheme is backed by legislation known as the Spent Convictions legislation. It limits the disclosure of certain older offences once a period stipulated by the law expires or some certain conditions are met. The period is referred to as the 'waiting period' or the 'crime-free' period. Generally, the waiting period is;

However, if a person re-offends during the waiting period, the 'waiting time' clock restarts and the person has to re-qualify for the legislation above.

Is a Spent Conviction disclosed in a NPC?

Convictions are categorized as spent according to each State’s/Territories and Commonwealth legislation and will not be disclosed in a National Police Check certificate in Australia.

However, for some purposes of the Check, some convictions will be revealed in the National Police check. For example, in all States and Territories, sex offences are never classified under the Spent Convictions scheme and are always disclosed irrespective of the time elapsed since the conviction.

Application for National Police Checks for the following purposes may disclose details of older convictions/findings of guilt. This list is not exhaustive, and depending on varying State legislations, other purposes might qualify in addition to;

Are Spent Convictions the same in all Australian States and Territories?

For an offence to qualify as a spent conviction, it must conform to the Spent Convictions Scheme of that State. However, where the offence is already capable of being spent, it will be Spent automatically. If the offence was committed in Western Australia, you will have to apply to the WA Police to have the offence as Spent.

Every state has different policies and legislations regarding what offences and other what criteria offences qualify as being spent.

Who applies the Spent Convictions Policy on my Police Checks?

If you have requested for a Police Check, before issuing the national police certificate, the Australian Police agencies will apply the legislation or release policy of that State to any offences the person may have.

You can hardly influence this decision, as it is the sole prerogative of the State in the jurisdiction and the Police authorities. Also, accredited agencies like Australian National Character Check cannot and do not influence if an offence is considered spent or not.

Any offence that is considered as Spent will be expunged from the records of the applicant, and they do not have to disclose it to the requesting party. However, every applicant must declare the purpose of the Check during a national police clearance application.

How does the Spent Conviction Scheme affect an individual generally?

Part VIIC of the Crimes Act of 1914 (Commonwealth) supervises the aspects of the collection, use and disclosure of old convictions information. In essence, all laws subsumed under the 'Spent Convictions Scheme'

The general ‘Spent Convictions’ scheme of the Commonwealth covers convictions of individuals that are;

If all of these conditions are satisfied;

Spent Convictions in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

In the ACT, a conviction will become spent according to the Spent Convictions Act of 2000, and under the commonwealth legislation on Spent Offences. Criminal Convictions are based on the Crimes (Sentencing) Act of 2005, and the crimes act of 1914 is also applicable in some cases.

The conviction cannot become spent if;

Convictions in ACT becomes Spent after the waiting period which is;

If the convictions lead to a sentence, the waiting period commences at the end of the waiting period.

However, the waiting period will restart if you are convicted of an offence during that period. Though not all offences trigger a restart on the applicant’s waiting period.

For example, some traffic offences will only restart waiting periods for convictions that were originally traffic offences.

Spent Convictions in New South Wales (NSW)

The Spent convictions scheme in NSW is governed under the Criminal Records Act of 1991. The Scheme helps mitigate the future influence of relatively minor conviction of the individual once the crime-free period has expired.

At the end of the crime-free period, the conviction becomes spent and is removed from the individual's nationally coordinated criminal history check certificate.

Which convictions can be spent in NSW?

New South Wales legislation on spent offences allows all other offences to be spent except the following;

How can a Conviction be Spent in NSW?

There are different criteria for offences to become spent in New South Wales such as;

What is the crime-free period in NSW?

The Crime free period in New South Wales for adults is;

For Adults;

For Children;

Where a conviction is Spent in New South Wales, it becomes unlawful to disclose such information concerning the person.

Furthermore, the individual’s national police check in nsw will only contain information about other offences other than the spent charges.

Spent Convictions in South Australia (SA)

Some offences in Southern Australia can be considered old, or “less serious” to be included in an individual’s criminal record. The offences are subsumed under the Spent convictions Act 2009, called Spent Offences.

Spent offences help protect people from unfair and unreasonable discrimination from older or lesser convictions. Offences are considered spent after a crime-free period has elapsed.

If an offence is considered Spent in South Australia, it is not disclosed in the Individual's National Police Check in SA. However, Checks for people working with the vulnerable, aged, children and other sensitive roles may be required by law to disclose such charges.

How does an offence become Spent in South Australia?

Some of the criteria that may lead to an offence become spent include;

Also, an offence can become Spent if;

Spent Convictions in Victoria (VIC)

It may become difficult getting employment or admission in some organisations in Victoria if you have failed your national police check in Victoria.

The state of Victoria does not have a state based spent conviction scheme. All offences/convictions are lawful to be disclosed in any relevant documents, irrespective of how much time has elapsed.

However, if you are convicted under the commonwealth jurisdiction, and fulfil certain conditions, then you may be considered under the Commonwealth Spent Conviction Scheme.

Are all offences disclosed in my VIC Criminal History Check?

The Victorian Police complies to a Public Information Release Policy, which is an informal, and discretionary practice.

It follows that;

Some exceptions to the Public Information release Policy occur if records are requested by;

Spent Convictions in Queensland (QLD)

Some offences can be expunged from an individual’s criminal record check in QLD if:

This legislation falls under the Rehabilitation offenders’ act of 1986.

The rehabilitation period is;

However, if the offender is convicted of another punishable offence during this period, the period restarts from the date of the recent conviction. Also, Convictions which incur prison sentences of over 30 months are exempted from the Rehabilitation offender’s scheme.

Once the rehabilitation period is “successfully” completed;

The exception to the no-disclosure Scheme (Spent Conviction) in Queensland includes;

If you feel that your personal information under the Spent convictions (Rehabilitation acts) has not been handled properly in Queensland, you can make a privacy complaint at the Office of the Information Commissioner.

Spent Convictions in Tasmania (TAS)

The annulled Convictions Act of 2003 allows for some minor offences to be removed from an individual’s criminal record subject to certain conditions.

If any conviction is annulled from an individual’s record in Tasmania, information regarding such conviction will not be disclosed on a Police Check Tasmania or similar documents.

A conviction can qualify as being spent if;

Exceptions to the Spent Convictions in Tasmania are;

Spent Convictions in the Northern Territory (NT)

If convictions are considered Spent in the Northern Territory, it will be removed from an individual’s National Police Check in NT.

The Northern Territory’s legislation on spent convictions is contained in the Spent Convictions Act. The Commonwealth Spent convictions scheme also applies to Criminal offences in NT that have a federal aspect.

Offences become spent in the Northern Territory after a crime-free period, which is;

If an imprisonment sentence was imposed, the crime-free period commences after the prison term.

However, these rules don’t apply to convictions where;

Spent Convictions in Western Australia (WA)

The Spent Convictions Act of 1988 (WA) makes provision for “lesser convictions” to be spent by the Western Australia Police and therefore not appear on a national police clearance in WA. Offences are considered spent after a crime-free (waiting) 10 years from conviction including (after) any term of imprisonment that is imposed.

A “Lesser Convictions” in WA is one that attracts an imprisonment term of 12 months or less, or where a fine of less than $15,000 was imposed; else it is considered a “Serious Offence.” An individual must not be convicted of a new offence during the waiting period; else the period restarts from the time of the new conviction.

Any other convictions including those regarded as “serious convictions” (found under section 6 of the Act) can only be Spent by applying to the District Court.

The court may also make a “Spent conviction” order during sentencing; that a Conviction is a "Spent Conviction" to be Spent. These legislations are governed by the Sentencing Act of 1995 and Convictions Act of 1988 (WA).

If the offence was committed in Western Australia (WA), you will have to apply to the WA Police to have the offence as Spent.

The Commonwealth Spent Convictions Scheme may also apply where the offences relate to Commonwealth jurisdiction within and Outside the state.