Know Your Rights: Spent Convictions in Victoria

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If you or someone you know has faced criminal charges you may have come across the term ‘spent convictions‘. But what exactly are spent convictions, and why do they matter? In this month’s article, we will demystify the concept of spent convictions, shed light on the latest spent conviction laws in Victoria, and explore the numerous benefits they offer for those convicted.

What is a Spent Conviction in Australia?

Unless certain exceptions apply, a spent conviction is a prior conviction that:

  • Will not show up on your police background check.
  • Is not required to be disclosed to anyone.
  • Others are not permitted to request you disclose.

Spent convictions are an essential component of the Australian criminal justice system, designed to give individuals a second chance and allow them to move forward with their lives after serving their sentences. A spent conviction essentially means that the individual’s criminal record is no longer accessible to the public or employers.

The primary purpose of the spent conviction scheme is to strike a balance between public safety and the rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals who have committed crimes. It acknowledges that people can change, grow, and learn from their mistakes, and should not be burdened with the long-term consequences of a criminal record once they have demonstrated rehabilitation.

The Equal Opportunity Act of 2010 makes it illegal to discriminate based on a spent conviction.

There are consequences for unlawfully obtaining or revealing a spent conviction.

The Current Spent Conviction Scheme in Victoria

The Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic) introduced a scheme that allows convictions to become ‘spent,’ either automatically or by applying to the court. As a result, these convictions will not be included in your criminal record, and you are not obligated to inform others about them. 

This newfound freedom is particularly beneficial for individuals with convictions, as it can enhance their employment prospects and overall quality of life. Certain convictions will become spent right away, while others will do so either after the conviction period elapses or through a court application.

This Act has a significant impact on individuals with criminal records in Victoria. It offers more opportunities for convictions to be spent, allowing individuals to regain their privacy and move on with their lives more quickly. It also acknowledges an ongoing commitment to criminal justice reform and the recognition of the need to provide individuals with better opportunities for rehabilitation and reintegration.

The Advantages of Spent Convictions

Employment Prospects: One of the most significant benefits of having a spent conviction is its positive effect on employment prospects. A spent conviction will not appear on standard police checks, making it easier for individuals to secure jobs and contribute to society.

Personal Life: Beyond employment, a spent conviction can also improve various aspects of an individual’s personal life. It can help them secure rental properties, access loans, and participate in community activities without the stigma associated with a criminal record.

The Advantages Of Spent Convictions

What Convictions are Eligible?

Not all convictions can be classed as spent, and eligibility criteria vary depending on the offence, sentence, and individual circumstances. Generally, less serious offences are more likely to be eligible for spent conviction status.

In Victoria, not all crimes are eligible for spent convictions. Eligibility for spent convictions depends on various factors, including the type of offence, the sentence imposed, and individual circumstances.

Examples of Spent Convictions

Here’s a general guideline on the types of crimes that may be eligible for spent convictions, and other relevant factors:

  • Less Serious Offences: Typically, less serious or minor offences are more likely to be eligible for spent convictions. These might include offences like petty theft, minor drug offences, or public order offences.
  • First-Time Offences: In some cases, first-time offenders who have committed relatively minor offences may be eligible for spent convictions. This reflects the principle of giving individuals a second chance.
  • Youth Offences: Offences committed as a juvenile or young adult may have a higher chance of being eligible for spent convictions, recognising that young people may make mistakes but can also rehabilitate.
  • Non-Custodial Sentences: Offences that resulted in non-custodial sentences, such as fines, community service, or probation, are more likely to be eligible for spent convictions compared to offences that led to imprisonment.
  • Specific Legislation: Some offences may have specific legislation that governs their eligibility for spent convictions. For example, some traffic offences may have their own criteria for spent convictions.
  • Waiting Periods: In many cases, there may be waiting periods before an offence becomes eligible for a spent conviction. The length of the waiting period can vary based on the severity of the offence and the specific laws in place.
  • Clean Record During Waiting Period: To be eligible for a spent conviction, individuals usually need to maintain a clean record during the waiting period. This means no further convictions or offences during that time.

What Crimes are not Eligible for Spent Convictions?

Crimes that are generally not eligible for spent convictions include serious offences like murder/manslaughter, sexual assault, repeat offences, those resulting in imprisonment, certain sexual offences, terrorism-related crimes, firearms offences, and severe traffic offences.

These exclusions are due to the gravity of the offences, public safety concerns, and their impact on victims. Keep in mind that eligibility criteria can change and evolve over time, and consulting with a legal professional is essential to understand specific case circumstances, updates to laws, and potential rehabilitation options.

How to Apply for a Spent Conviction

Although some crimes are qualified to be spent automatically, other crimes demand an application for this status. The specific eligibility criteria and application process may change over time, so it’s crucial to consult legal professionals for the most up-to-date information regarding eligibility and the application process.

If you are considering applying for a spent conviction or have questions about your eligibility, we advise you to seek legal advice from criminal law professionals, such as the team at Sher Lawyers. We can provide guidance tailored to your unique situation and help you navigate the process effectively.

If you believe you meet the eligibility criteria, applying for a spent conviction involves several steps. It’s crucial to gather the necessary documents, complete the application form, and submit it to the appropriate authority. Seeking legal advice from Sher Lawyers can be highly beneficial in navigating this process effectively.

How To Apply For A Spent Conviction

Do Spent Convictions Show on a Police Check?

In Victoria, spent convictions are not disclosed on standard police checks. However, certain roles and positions may require more extensive background checks, which could potentially disclose spent convictions. It’s essential to understand the specifics of the background check being conducted.

Legal Advice and Representation

Navigating the complexities of spent convictions and the application process can be daunting. Seeking legal counsel is advisable to ensure you meet the eligibility criteria and complete the application correctly.

Spent convictions in Victoria play a crucial role in offering individuals a fresh start after serving their sentences. The 2021 Spent Convictions Act reflects a commitment to rehabilitation and reintegration, ensuring that people can move forward with their lives.

At Sher Lawyers, we understand that facing criminal charges can be a challenging experience. We approach every case with an open mind and without judgment, offering personalised guidance and support to help you achieve the best possible outcome.

Legal Advice And Representation

Sher Laywers: Your Trusted Partner in the Pursuit of a Spent Conviction

If you or someone you know would like to apply for a spent conviction or is facing criminal charges, Sher Lawyers is here to provide the legal expertise and support you need. We understand the importance of second chances and are dedicated to helping you navigate the legal system and legal defences you are eligible for with confidence. Remember, a spent conviction can open doors to a brighter future, and we’re here to assist you on that journey.

We are accessible around the clock and provide complimentary consultations through Zoom, Facetime, or in-person at our Melbourne and Moorabbin offices.

Please note that this article is not legal advice. It only presents general information.

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