Is a Criminal Record Forever?- “Spent Convictions”

What are spent convictions?

Spent convictions are convictions that are not required to be disclosed to anyone. Following the relevant time lapsing, spent convictions do not need to be disclosed to anyone at all. The relevant time period is 10 years for adult offenders and 3 years for child offenders.

Section 12 of the Criminal records Act states that:

If a conviction of a person is spent:

(a) the person is not required to disclose to any other person for any purpose information concerning the spent conviction, and

(b) a question concerning the person’s criminal history is taken to refer only to any convictions of the person which are not spent, and

(c) in the application to the person of a provision of an Act or statutory instrument:

(i) a reference in the provision to a conviction is taken to be a reference only to any convictions of the person which are not spent, and

(ii) a reference in the provision to the person’s character or fitness is not to be interpreted as permitting or requiring account to be taken of spent convictions.

The effect of section 12 is that you are under no obligation to disclose any matter other than convictions that have not been spent.

A conviction is only spent if you do not commit any offences within that time period.

What offences apply?

Unfortunately, for those who have been in trouble with the law, not all convictions are considered as “spent convictions”.

All convictions for all criminal offences can be considered as spent convictions after the relevant time period expires, except the following offences:

  • convictions for which a prison sentence of more than 6 months was imposed,
  • convictions for sex offences,
  • convictions imposed against bodies corporate (for e.g. a company).

Will spent convictions affect travelling and employment opportunities?

If the time period that applies for your conviction has lapsed, you do not have to disclose your conviction to any employer or on any application for a visa to travel to another country.

Will spent convictions apply for traffic offences?

Traffic offences are not included as an offence which will restart the recalculation of the waiting period (even if they result in imprisonment) for a non-traffic offence (although they are of course relevant for calculating a crime-free period for a traffic offence).

This is the case unless the traffic offence involved dangerous driving that occasioned death or grievous bodily harm or injury by furious driving.

Is a Section 10 considered as a Conviction?

No. Section 10 is not considered as a conviction. You are found guilty in this circumstance, however, if dealt with by way of a Section 10, the court does not record a conviction.

For more information on Section 10, and to see case studies where we have achieved Section 10 for our clients, click here.

If you would like to inquire whether a conviction that was previously recorded against you is spent, call us on 1300 595 299 for a free consultation.