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Spent Convictions Scheme Victoria

Table of Contents

Are you eligible?

Please complete the relevant online form:

Over 21 when you were sentenced.

Under 21 when you were sentenced.

What is a spent conviction?

A spent conviction refers to a criminal conviction that, after a specified period of time and under certain conditions, is removed from an individual’s public criminal record.

Once a conviction is spent, it doesn’t usually need to be disclosed in most everyday circumstances, like job applications or renting. This helps people with past convictions avoid long-term impacts on their lives.

Conditions for a conviction to become spent vary by jurisdiction; they typically include a crime-free period and depend on the nature of the offense. In Victoria, Australia, the Spent Convictions Act 2021 outlines these conditions and processes.

What is the Spent Convictions Scheme Victoria?

The Spent Convictions Act 2021 in Victoria, Australia, allows certain convictions to become ‘spent’ either automatically or through a court application. Once spent, these convictions are not part of your criminal record, and there’s no need to disclose them. This offers significant benefits, particularly in employment, enhancing life opportunities for individuals with past convictions. Convictions can be spent immediately, automatically after a specified period, or through court application.

How to apply for a spent conviction in Victoria

To apply for a spent conviction in Victoria, Australia, you must first check your eligibility. Then, complete the relevant application form, providing necessary documentation. You can submit your own application. But it’s recommended you contact a criminal lawyer.

When can you make an application?

You can apply through the Spent Convictions Scheme in Victoria once the relevant waiting period for your conviction has passed. For adults, this is typically 10 years for indictable offences and 5 years for summary offences, starting from the conviction date or release from prison. Juvenile convictions usually become spent after 3 years. If your conviction doesn’t automatically become spent after these periods, you can then apply to the court for it to be spent.

Do I need to make an application?

Some convictions will be spent immediately or once the conviction period expires. Other convictions will require an application.

Convictions that require an application

You can make an application to the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria for a spent conviction order in relation to a ‘serious conviction’.

A serious conviction is defined as:

  • a conviction for which a court imposed a sentence of more than 30 months imprisonment or detention; or
  • a conviction for a sexual offence; or
  • a conviction for a serious violent offence.

Eligibility criteria

The conviction period must have expired AND you need to meet the criteria below

Source: Magistrates’ Court of Victoria

Adult offender

Child/young offender

The  was 21 or older at the time of sentencing and:

  1. no term of imprisonment was imposed for a conviction sentenced for:
    • a sexual offence as defined under section 4 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 or
    • a serious violence offence as defined under Schedule 2 of the Serious Offenders Act 2018, or;
  2. you were an adult and were sentenced for an offence other than a serious violence or sexual offence and you were given a prison sentence of more than 30 months, but less than five years.

The applicant was a child/young offender (under the age of 21 years) at the time they were sentenced for either:

  1. a sexual offence as defined under section four of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 or
  2. a serious violence offence as defined under schedule two of the Serious Offenders Act 2018, or;

an offence where you were sentenced to a youth justice centre order or youth residential centre order of more than 30 months.

Conviction period

The conviction period for the offence must have expired prior to applying for a spent conviction order. Under section nine of the Spent Convictions Act 2021, the conviction period is a period of:

  • five years, for a conviction of a young offender/child under 21 at the time of the offence.
  • 10 years for any other person.

A conviction for a new offence will restart the conviction period, unless one of the following circumstances apply:

  • a finding by a court made ‘without conviction’
  • no penalty is ordered
  • the only penalty is a fine of no more than 10 penalty units
  • the only penalty is an order to pay a victim compensation (such as for pain and suffering) or restitution (such as to restore stolen property).

Convictions spent immediately

From 1 December 2021, various convictions will be spent immediately. These will not require an application.

According to the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria, a conviction will be immediately spent if:

  • the conviction is not recorded by a court; or
  • the conviction is a finding of guilt under section 17(1)(c) or 38X(1)(c) of the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997, or a finding under a provision of a foreign law that corresponds to either of those provisions; or
  • the conviction is for an offence committed when the person was under the age of 15 years; or
  • the only penalty imposed on conviction was a fine by the Children’s Court, or a court of a country other than Australia that corresponds to the Children’s Court; or
  • the conviction is an infringement conviction, or a conviction under a foreign law that corresponds to an infringement conviction.

If a court imposed a penalty with a condition attached to the conviction, the conviction will not become immediately spent until all conditions attached to the penalty are completed.

Convictions spent on the expiry of the conviction period

According to the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria, you do not need to make an application to the court if your conviction will automatically become spent once the conviction period expires. This applies to convictions that are not serious convictions.

A serious conviction is defined as:

  • a conviction for which a court imposed a sentence of more than 30 months’ imprisonment or detention; or
  • a conviction for a sexual offence; or
  • a conviction for a serious violence offence.

The conviction period is five years if the offender was a child or young offender at the time the finding of guilt was made; and 10 years in any other case. The conviction period commences from the date that the court made a finding of guilt constituting the conviction.

The conviction period may be recommenced if a subsequent conviction is imposed.

What if my conviction happened before 1 July 2022?

The Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic) applies to convictions that were imposed before, on or after the day on which the Act comes into operation.

If you have a criminal conviction and would like to know if it is eligible to become spent, you should seek legal advice. Please contact us here to book a consultation with an experienced criminal lawyer.

How long does a criminal record last in Victoria?

In Victoria, the length of time a conviction stays on your record varies. Under the Spent Convictions Scheme, most convictions become spent automatically after a crime-free period of 10 years for adults and 5 years for juveniles, starting from the date of sentencing or release from prison. However, serious convictions, such as sexual offences or those resulting in a prison sentence of more than 30 months, don’t become spent. Each case can vary, so it’s important to check specific details for individual circumstances.

Can I get a conviction removed from my record Victoria?

Yes, you can get a conviction removed from your criminal record in Victoria. The Spent Convictions Scheme allows convictions to become ‘spent’ automatically or upon application to the court. If a conviction is ‘spent’, it will not be on your record. You also don’t have to disclose it to anyone. If you want your conviction removed, you should seek expert legal advice from a criminal lawyer.

Do I have to declare a conviction if it is spent?

You do not have to declare a conviction that is spent unless an exclusion applies. In fact, it is an offence to disclose information regarding spent convictions. It is against the law for a person who has access to a person’s criminal record held by a public authority to disclose a spent conviction. It is also unlawful for a person to fraudulently or dishonestly obtain information about a spent conviction from records kept by a public authority.

What shows up on a police check in Victoria?

Police checks in Victoria will show all pending matters awaiting trial, charges, court convictions, findings of guilt (including those with no conviction), and court orders such as good behaviour bonds.

These include everything from minor offences (e.g. traffic offences) to more serious crimes.

The police check is nationwide. In other words, if the offence occurred in Australia, it will show up on the police check. But minor historical crimes are no longer included in police checks.

Can you look up criminal records in Victoria?

In Victoria, access to criminal records is usually for official purposes, such as employment background checks. Individuals can request their own criminal record by applying for a National Police Check through Victoria Police, resulting in a National Police Certificate for various uses​.

What jobs can I get with a criminal record?

While a criminal record does not bar you from all employment, it can influence job opportunities. The impact depends on factors like the nature of the offence, its relevance to the job, and the time since the offence occurred. Different professions have varied levels of scrutiny, particularly those involving vulnerable groups.

Can you join the army with a criminal record?​

Joining the army with a criminal record may be possible but is subject to the nature and severity of the record. The military assesses each application individually, and certain convictions could lead to disqualification.

Can you travel overseas with a criminal record?

Travelling abroad with a criminal record can be complex. Some countries have entry restrictions for individuals with specific types of criminal records. It’s advised to research the destination’s entry requirements and consult their embassy, especially regarding visas​​.

Can you get a passport with a criminal record?

Having a criminal record generally does not prevent obtaining a passport. However, possessing a passport doesn’t ensure entry into other countries, as each has its own regulations regarding criminal records. It’s crucial to understand and comply with the travel rules of the country you plan to visit.

Can you join Victoria Police with a criminal record?

Joining the Victoria Police with a criminal record is challenging but not necessarily impossible. Each application is assessed individually, considering the nature and severity of the offence, the time elapsed since the conviction, and evidence of rehabilitation. While some serious offences may lead to disqualification, lesser offences, especially if considerable time has passed, may not automatically exclude a candidate. Full disclosure and honesty during the application process are essential.

Can a lawyer help me clear my criminal record?

Yes, a lawyer can help you clear your criminal record in Victoria, Australia, particularly through the Spent Convictions Scheme. This scheme allows certain convictions to be removed from your record after a set period, provided specific conditions are met. The process can be complex, and eligibility varies based on the nature of the conviction and other factors. A lawyer can guide you through this process, determine your eligibility, and assist with any necessary legal procedures.

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