What is a spent conviction?
A ‘spent conviction’ is essentially a hidden conviction. This means that:
- It will not appear on a National Police Check
- You do not have to declare it to anyone, unless you fall under special conditions
Will the conviction go on my record?
If you are convicted of an offence, either by your own plea of guilty or if you are found guilty after a trial, it will be recorded on your criminal record.
The conviction may, however, be ‘spent’. You will not have to declare it to anyone unless you fall under a special category and it will not appear on a National Police Check.
However, the police and court will still be able to access all of your convictions, even if they are spent convictions.
Why apply for a spent conviction?
Having a conviction recorded can cause difficulties in your life, from getting a job to travelling overseas.
Many employers will require you to produce a police clearance as part of your employment or applying for a new job, and the presence of a conviction on your record could negatively impact your chances of getting hired or your progression at work.
You may also need a spent conviction in order to obtain a visa for travel to certain countries.
Some volunteer work will also require a spent conviction.
How do I apply for a spent conviction?
You need to apply for a spent conviction at the time of sentencing.
To qualify for a spent conviction, you will need to convince the court that you are:
- Are unlikely to commit such an offence again
- That the offence is trivial or that you are of good character
- That you should be relieved immediately of the adverse effect that the conviction may have on you
You should bring supporting evidence, such as character references, a letter from your employer or your employment contract, which should show that you require a police clearance.
If you don’t apply for a spent conviction at the time of sentencing or are refused, you will have to wait 10 years before you can apply for a spent conviction again.
You may be unable to get a spent conviction, depending on what your sentence is. If you get sentenced to imprisonment, you cannot apply for a spent conviction.
When making an application for a spent conviction, you should speak to a criminal defence lawyer as soon as you can. Your criminal lawyer may advise you that you should do a program or course, which can improve your chances of getting a spent conviction.
Your criminal lawyer will also tell you what should be included in a character reference and can provide you with a template.
Chambers Legal has an experienced team of defence lawyers in Perth who can assist you with applying for a spent conviction. Contact one of our friendly team here to get started.