Is It Possible to Clear My Criminal Record?
If you’ve been asked to apply for a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check as part of a job application process, you might be wondering whether it’s possible to clear your criminal record. And, thanks to spent convictions legislation in place in regions across Australia, it is.
See below for information on how spent convictions legislation works and how it varies between different States and Territories.
Plus, find out more about how the national police checking (NPC) process works if you have spent convictions, how to dispute NPC results if your spent convictions show up on your certificate, and how long a certificate with unspent convictions is valid.
What types of convictions are in my Criminal Record?
There is spent convictions legislation in place in all Australian States and Territories. Simply put, this exists to automatically clear the criminal records of former offenders, meaning wiped or ‘spent’ convictions will not show up on their Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check certificates.
There are, however, certain terms and conditions to bear in mind as well as variations in the application of this legislation in different states.
For starters, convictions will become spent after different waiting periods in different areas of Australia. In addition, some convictions can never become spent, and there are circumstances under which even spent convictions will be disclosed in a check certificate.
How Long Before a Conviction Becomes Spent?
Generally speaking, a conviction becomes spent after 10 years if it was given when the offending person was an adult, or five years if the offender was a child at the point of conviction. However, these rules may vary depending on the region in which a person received their conviction.
In New South Wales (NSW), for example, a child’s conviction will be considered spent after just three years. Plus, some convictions in the region may be wiped early as the result of good behaviour. So, it is advised that you meet the conditions of your conviction if you want to apply for a police check NSW and receive a national police certificate with no listed convictions.
What Criminal Offences Will Never Become Spent?
In most States and Territories across Australia, sexual offences can never become spent, no matter how many years have passed since the date of conviction. As such, any sexual offences committed will always show up on an offender’s NPC certificate. In some instances, this is also the case when the offender was a minor at the time of conviction.
Additionally, convictions in Western Australia will not become spent automatically. Rather, those with convictions on their criminal record must apply for a spent conviction on the Western Australia government website.
Keep this in mind if you are applying for WA police check. If you fail to apply for a spent conviction in time, it may still be listed on your national police certificate.
Under What Circumstances Will My Spent Convictions Be Disclosed in an NPC?
Even if your convictions become spent, there are some instances in which they might still be disclosed on a national police certificate.
You may notice that, during the NPC application process, you are asked to provide information on the purpose of your national police check. If the reason you need a police certificate is any of the following, older convictions may still appear:
- Working with children.
- Working with the elderly.
- Working with disabled or otherwise vulnerable people.
- Working in immigration.
- Working as a commercial driver.
- Employment in a hospital.
To find out if older convictions are likely to be disclosed on your police certificate, refer to the police check legislation for your State or Territory.
What Information Does a Police Check Certificate Typically Include?
The primary purpose of a police check certificate is for employers to ascertain whether you have any convictions on your criminal record, particularly those that would make hiring you a risk either to the company or the people it serves. As such, every certificate will come back either with ‘disclosable outcomes’ or ‘no disclosable outcomes.’
Disclosable outcomes are the convictions that are listed on the certificate. If you have been charged for a crime but have not yet appeared in court, that charge may be included as well.
If your certificate has no disclosable outcomes, that most likely means you have no recorded convictions, or your convictions have become spent. Or, it could mean that any convictions found during your criminal record check were not considered relevant to the position you applied for.
Will Interstate Convictions Be Included on My National Police Certificate?
Yes, your national police certificate will list any relevant convictions from all States and Territories throughout Australia. Even when you apply for a regional (or state based) police check, police databases from all regions will be searched. In doing so, the information you provide can be matched with person of interest records across the country.
So, if a person were convicted of a crime in Brisbane, that conviction would still show up on their national police certificate if they applied for SA police check.
How Accurate Are National Police Checks?
As long as you enter the correct details upon application, the outcomes listed on your national police certificate should be accurate. However, even small mistakes in the spelling or spacing of the information you provide could result in an inaccurate search.
It is in your best interests to provide the right information when completing an NPC online application. That way, you can be sure you won’t receive a certificate that lists convictions that are not attributable to you.
If we have reason to believe that the information you provided is incorrect, we will contact you as soon as possible. We may be able to amend any mistakes for you before the police checking process begins. However, please note that we do reserve the right to reject applications that contain inadequate information.
What Personal Information Do I Have to Provide for My NPC Application?
For the first step of your police check online application, you will be asked to enter your name, contact details such as your email address and phone number, and information related to the purpose of your police check.
Then, after you pay your fees through the secure online platform, you will be prompted to provide the following additional details:
- Your gender.
- Your date of birth.
- Five years of address history.
Will My National Police Check Certificate Show Spent Convictions If My Identifying Documents Are in Different Names?
As well as your personal information, you also need to provide four types of identifying documentation. If you have recently changed your name and not had time to update your IDs, you will be required to include an official marriage certificate or change of name document in your application, too. This will help to prove the link between your former name and current name.
So, if you have convictions that only became spent following your legal name change, you don’t have to worry about those convictions showing up on your police clearance certificate. Any changes to your convictions will be acknowledged, whether or not you’ve had time to update your documents.
What Happens When I Submit My National Police Check Application If I Have Spent Convictions?
Once you have entered your details, uploaded your identifying documents, and paid your fees, you should be just about ready to submit your application. The process that follows is the same regardless of whether you have spent convictions, unspent convictions, or no convictions at all.
As soon as we receive an application, we check that the information provided is accurate before submitting it to the National Police Checking Service. There, they will search national and all regional criminal databases to see if there’s a match between the information you provided and persons of interest known to the authorities.
Before your results are returned to Worker Checks, they will be sent to a police agency. There, it will be determined what convictions (if any) will be included in your application. So, if you have spent convictions, this is the point at which that they will be struck from your certificate. The only exception is if your spent convictions are found to be relevant to the purpose of your application.
Will It Take Longer to Process a National Police Check If I Have Spent Convictions?
In most cases, it takes just one hour for an applicant to receive their certificate. However, in some instances, the process can be delayed for up to 15 days. This happens when the National Police Checking Service selects an application for further review.
It is not possible to predict whether your application will be selected for review because it can happen whether you have spent convictions or not.
Can I Dispute the Disclosable Outcomes on My National Police Certificate If I Have Spent Convictions?
If your national police certificate is returned to you with disclosable outcomes but you believe your convictions have become spent, it is possible to dispute your results. However, please bear in mind that if your certificate shows your spent convictions, there will most likely be a reason why.
Remember that there are certain exceptions to spent convictions legislation. These state that if your spent convictions are relevant to the purpose of your NPC application, they may still be included on your certificate.
Say, for example, that an applicant needs an NPC certificate for employment in a school. If that applicant has prior convictions for offences against children, it is highly likely those convictions will be disclosed, regardless of how long it has been since the offence occurred.
Will I Need to Get a New National Criminal History Check If My Convictions Become Spent?
Any police check is a ‘point in time’ check. As such, the certificate you receive will be valid at the time of issue. It will only be considered invalid when the organisation that requested it asks you to renew or if the status of any of your conviction’s changes.
Therefore, you will be required to apply for a new national police certificate when your convictions become spent. It is likely to be of more benefit to you to produce a certificate with fewer or no disclosable outcomes.
Can I Still Get Hired If My Check Certificate Shows Unspent Convictions?
Having no disclosable outcomes is the desired result for most people who apply for a police check in Australia. However, having unspent convictions listed on your certificate does not necessarily mean you won’t get hired.
It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that not all organisations will ask you to complete a national police check. Those that do will quite likely have a good reason for not wanting to take on applicants with a criminal history. This is especially true of offenders whose convictions are considered to make them a higher risk to the people the organisation serves.
Are There Any Other Ways to Clean My Criminal Record in Australia?
No, the only way to clear your criminal record in the different States and Territories across Australia is for your convictions to become spent.
That being said, spent convictions legislation is applied slightly differently in the different regions of Australia. So, it’s worth reading up on the way spent convictions work where you are. The outcomes disclosed on an applicant’s NPC certificate may vary depending on whether they apply for a police check Vic, one in Queensland, or elsewhere in the country.