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  5. Introduction to Spent Convictions: eligibility, exclusions & criminal history disclosure obligations
8 Oct 2020

HHG Legal Group’s criminal law team’s Senior Lawyer, Naomi Sherrington, provides an introduction to spent convictions, their applicability, and what circumstances may require disclosure of criminal or disciplinary offences.

20201008 spent convictions In article

The adverse consequences of having a criminal conviction can continue to impact a person’s life long after the criminal justice system has finished with the matter.   Requirements to disclose a criminal history can make it difficult for individuals to access employment, training and housing and can be said to undermine privacy. 

What is a Spent Conviction?

A spent conviction occurs when a person is found guilty of an offence, but the conviction is not recorded. This means that the conviction will not be listed on a National Police Certificate. A spent conviction can be granted at the time of sentencing, or upon application to the Commissioner or to the Court, which can assist people who are reliant upon employment within industries that require a national police clearance.

Are there any exclusions?

Yes. Under the Spent Convictions Act 1988 some government departments, licensing bodies as well as the Police and Courts of Law have exemptions and can access convictions that have been spent. Disclosure and consideration of prior convictions will in some cases always be required because of the reason or purpose for which the person is disclosing the information. For example, in relation to particular offences or when applying for certain public positions. 

Do I have to disclose my conviction if asked?

Even if you have successfully spent your conviction, it is not always easy to know when disclosure of criminal or disciplinary offences to a government agency, employer or a non-government organisation is required.  The answers generally depend on the nature of the offence, when and where the offence was committed, and to what organisation the history and information is been given to.  HHG can assist with questions about whether and when convictions for federal, state or territory offences does or does not need to be disclosed.  It is important to be clear about what the exceptions are and how the record can be used to assess whether an instance of discrimination or inappropriate use has occurred and what avenues of recourse may be available.

Are Spent Convictions only applicable to more minor crimes?

In Western Australia, rehabilitated individuals who have previously committed serious criminal offences may also be eligible to apply to the Court to consider whether it is appropriate to make a spent conviction order, so long as they were not sentenced to life imprisonment.  

How HHG Legal Group can assist:

Our Criminal and Traffic lawyers understand the ramifications that criminal and disciplinary offences can have across all aspects of your life. Our highly experienced team across all four offices in Perth, Albany, Mandurah and Joondalup, can assist by:

  • Advising in relation to the effect and limitations of a spent conviction;
  • Applying for your conviction to be spent so that a conviction so is not listed on a national or state police clearance; 
  • responding to discrimination where a conviction has been spent; and
  • representation in court.

Make an enquiry online or book a telephone, video or safely distanced meeting by calling +61 8 9322 1966.

*This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. Please consult one of our experienced Legal Team for specific advice relevant to your situation.

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