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.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.