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Is it Possible to Clear my criminal record?

If you’re looking for employment, you may be asked as part of the process to apply for a National Police Check (NPC). This could create concerns about whether you can clear your criminal records.

Below, we discuss all you need to know about spent convictions and how they affect your NPC. We also discuss how Australian legislation is applied differently in the various States and Territories.

Is It Possible to Clear a Criminal Record?

Australian States and Territories have legislation that deals with spent convictions. This should automatically clear the criminal records of past offenders, meaning that those records should no longer appear on their criminal record checks.

However, the way the legislation is applied in the various states varies, and terms and conditions apply.

Different parts of Australia apply different waiting periods before the convictions become spent. Some convictions will never run the term, and some situations under which spent convictions will still appear on your NPC.

How Long Does It Take Before a Conviction is Spent?

Usually, in the case of an adult, the conviction will become spent after 10 years. If the offender was a child at the time of sentencing, a shorter period of five years will apply. Even these rules may differ depending on where the sentencing took place.

A child convicted in New South Wales, for example, must wait for just three years for the conviction to become spent. NSW also sometimes rewards good behaviour with a reduction in this period for some convictions. If you need to apply for a police check, you are advised to meet all the conditions of the sentencing beforehand.

Are There Criminal Offences That Don’t Become Spent?

Sexual offences in most of Australia’s States and Territories will never become spent. Even when a minor commits a sexual offence, this may be the case. This means that you can never clear this record from an NPC certificate.

In Western Australia, there is no automatic suspension of the conviction. Offenders who are sentenced in Western Australia have to apply for their convictions to become spent by online application on the government website. If you don’t apply for a spent conviction with enough time to spare in Western Australia, your conviction will show up on your NPC.

In What Situations Will Spent Convictions Appear on an NPC?

Sometimes even spent convictions will appear on an NPC. When applying for your NPC you will have to explain why you need it. If the reason you need the NPC is listed below, your NPC may disclose older convictions:

Working with children
Working with disabled or vulnerable people
Work with the elderly
Commercial driving
Immigration work
Working with elderly people

Check your state or territory NPC legislation to find out whether your prior convictions will show up or not.

What Information is Included in Police Check Certificates?

Police Check Certificates allow employers to check whether you have convictions on your criminal record. This is to reduce risk to the employer or the people with whom you are likely to come into contact during the course of your employment. The certificate may contain either disclosable outcomes or no disclosable outcomes.

It isn’t just convictions that appear under the disclosable outcomes. If you’ve been charged but haven’t had your day in court, the Police Check Certificate may include the charge. 

If you have no convictions or if your convictions are spent, your Police Check Certificate will show no disclosable outcomes. No disclosable outcomes may also mean that the convictions found were considered irrelevant for the position for which you’ve applied.

Are Interstate Convictions Included on the National Police Check?

The National Police Check includes all relevant convictions. This is also true for a regional NPC. All police databases from across the country are included in these checks. 

Are the National Police Checks Accurate?

These records are accurate but you must ensure that the application details are correct as even small mistakes may return an incorrect result. Applications containing insufficient information may be returned to you.

What Information is Required for the NPC Application?

You will have to supply your name, contact information, phone number and email address when you make your online police check. You will also have to disclose why you need the information.

Once you have paid the online fee, you will also have to supply your date of birth, gender and your addresses over the past five years.

How Does a Name Change Affect the NPC Outcome?

When you apply for the NPC, you will have to provide four different types of identity documents. If you have changed your name and it hasn’t yet been changed on your identity documents, you will also have to provide a marriage certificate or name change document with your application, linking your current and prior name.

Any convictions that became spent after you changed your name will not appear on your Police Clearance Certificate.

How Long Does the NPC Process Take?

The process is usually quick, taking a single business day from receipt of the application to the publication of the NPC. There are, however, exceptions. Sometimes the National Police Checking Service decides to review an application. This can cause a delay of up to 15 days.

Review selection is random and can happen even where there are no spent convictions so it’s impossible to foresee which applications will be reviewed.

Is It Possible to Dispute the Disposable Outcomes on the National Police Check?

You may contest the inclusion of spent convictions on your NPC but if convictions appear on your NPC, there may be a good reason why they are there.

The disclosed convictions may be subject to one of the exceptions to the legislation. In particular, if your convictions are relevant to the purpose of your application, these will still be disclosable convictions.

Do I Need a New National Police Check When My Convictions Become Spent?

The NPC that you receive is valid on the date of receipt and you will only need to have it replaced when the organization that asked for it needs renewal, or if your conviction status changes. You will, therefore, have to apply for a new NPC if you want spent convictions removed from the disclosable outcomes.

Will I Still Get a Job if My NPC Certificate Has Unspent Convictions?

Most people applying for an NPC would prefer to have no disclosable outcomes. However, it doesn’t mean that you won’t find employment if you have unspent convictions on your NPC.

Not all employers will ask for an NPC. Those that do will have a reason why they don’t want to employ anyone with a criminal history.  

Is There Any Other Way I Can Clear My Criminal Record in Australia?

The only way to clear your criminal record in Australia is to wait for the convictions to become spent. Check the legislation in your state or territory to see how it applies the legislation to spent convictions in your area. Conviction disclosures may differ depending on where you make your application, so it’s worth doing your research. 

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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