A spent conviction is a conviction for an offence where time has been served, and the perpetrator is classified as reformed.
It relates to the national ‘spent convictions scheme’ under Part VIIC of the Crimes Act 1914 here in Australia. A spent conviction will not show up on a national police check certificate if certain conditions are met.
The spent conviction scheme was introduced as a way to combat discrimination against people who hold records of minor or outdated offences. They are particularly prevalent in the hiring process so that work applicants who are considered ‘reformed’ are treated fairly when applying for a job. Each case is viewed individually, and the requirements to get a conviction are different based on each state.
The most common waiting period is ten years after the offence for adults and five years after the offence for non-adults. The time spent during this period also has to be classified as ‘crime-free’ by state laws.
The spent convictions scheme is national legislation for police authorities in Australia. This means if your conviction becomes spent, it will generally not appear in a national police check. There are exceptions, but a spent conviction will not be included in the police check certificate for most employee background checks.
The most common crimes that meet the requirements to become spent convictions are classified as ‘minor crimes’. These are usually categorised as attaining a six month or less prison sentence. Each state classifies minor crimes differently so check beforehand.
Certain crimes can never reach the requirements to become spent convictions, even after a long crime-free period.
Serious crimes that include sexual assault, grievous bodily harm or significant drug offences are processed differently from minor convictions. They carry heavy incarceration times and will never reach spent conviction status, regardless of how long ago they happened.
Certain work sectors require national police screening as a non-negotiable requirement by Australian law. If an individual applies for a job in one of these sectors, a spent conviction will show up even if it had previously been removed from their police check certificate.
The sectors that will still recognise spent convictions include working with children, working with vulnerable groups like the elderly or disabled, working in healthcare, public transport, rescue services, government roles, and careers involving firearms.
Generally, any offence that meets the requirements automatically becomes a spent conviction during a national police check. Each state has different laws and regulations for this process so check beforehand if you want to know how they affect you.
Apart from that, the only way to know for sure if your conviction has become spent is to take an individual police check. You can do the process online and upload documents quickly with our services offering a return of a police check certificate within 24 hours.
In the state of VIC, spent convictions fall under the Victorian Spent Convictions Act 2021. If the individual was aged 15-20 years during the time when they were sentenced then there needs to be a ‘crime-free’ waiting period of five years. If the individual was 21 years or older during the sentence, the waiting time would be ten years.
In all accounts, if the relevant sentence resulted in more than 30 months of incarceration, then it will never become a spent conviction in VIC.
In the state of NSW, spent convictions fall under No 8 of the Criminal records Act 1991 where a crime will become automatically spent after a 10-year crime-free period (5 years for non-adults).
However, the exemptions for spent convictions in the state of NSW include when a prison sentence lasted more than six months (excluding home detention), the offence involved companies and other corporate bodies, or the crime committed was a sexual offence.
To apply for a spent conviction in NSW, you should contact the state’s local police. They can provide you with more information. To check if your conviction is already spent you need to get a police check. You can do it within 24 hours and get an NSW Police Check Online.
Spent convictions in the state of QLD fall under the Criminal Record Legislations. If a sentence is considered a minor offence (less than six months incarceration) and the specific waiting period has passed, the conviction will automatically become a spent conviction. If the offender was trialled as an adult, the waiting period is ten years and for a non-adult, it is five years.
After the waiting period has been completed, the individual is lawfully allowed to deny the crime (even after oath) unless a legal minister grants access.
To apply for a spent conviction in QLD, you can contact the state’s local police for more information. To check if your conviction is spent you need to get a police check. You can do this within 24 hours by getting a QLD Police Check online.
In SA, spent convictions fall under the South Australian Spent Convictions Act 2009. It states that if the crime was considered minor (a sentence of fewer than 12 months imprisonment for an adult, or 24 months for a juvenile), it will automatically become a spent conviction after a waiting period.
This waiting period is five years for juveniles and ten years for adults. During this time, the individual needs to remain ‘crime-free’; otherwise, the waiting time will reset from the latest criminal sentence.
Under the Criminal Records (Spent Convictions) Act 1992 any offence committed will automatically become spent if conditions are met.
These conditions include a ‘crime-free’ waiting period lasting ten years if the conviction was sentenced in an adult court (five years if it was sentenced in a juvenile court) and that the crime was trialled as a minor conviction (lasting for less than six months imprisonment).
Convictions that meet the requirements laid out in Section 7 (1) of the Spent Convictions Act 1988 (WA) will become automatically spent in this state.
These requirements include a ten-year ‘crime-free’ waiting period after the sentence was made (five years for a non-adult) and the crime being classified as a ‘lesser conviction’. A lesser conviction in the WA state is classified as being a sentence that results in imprisonment of 12 months or less or a fine of less than AUD $15,000 when imposed.
A crime will become automatically spent if it was committed over ten years ago (five years for minors) following a waiting period of ‘good behaviour’. The conviction will only become spent if the crime is considered minor (imprisonment of six months or less) or unless a special exemption is made by a state official.
In Tasmania, the Annulled Convictions Act of 2003 sees that spent convictions are usually “respected” in the state.
This is up to the state's discretion but the rules that they will consider are: If the conviction was sentenced ten years ago (five years for a juvenile) and If it was a minor crime and the waiting period remains ‘crime-free’. Minor crimes are classified as sentences that result in less than six months imprisonment.
The easiest way to get a police check is by simplifying applying online. By going through a certified Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) like CrimCheck, you can easily get a police check filled in and processed within 24 hours. Whether it is an individual police check or a business police check for your organisation's hiring processes, our experience allows us to give a quick and thorough report.
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