Anyone who has been convicted of a crime in their youth may have mended their ways and not want anyone to know about it. If the offence was over ten years ago, they can apply to have that conviction ‘spent’; that is, wiped from the records. A criminal lawyer will tell you that such convictions have two classifications: lesser convictions and serious convictions. Here is how this is worked out.
- The lesser conviction refers to a sentence of less than $15,000 for the fine, or under twelve months for a lesser conviction.
- A serious conviction is imprisonment of more than a year in length or over $15,000 for the fine.
To have your conviction ‘spent’ you must apply through the courts. The review of the conviction should only take around 21 days.
- It will no longer be listed on a National Police Certificate, so anyone searching records to see if they can find out anything against you will not be able to find it.
- You won’t have to tell everyone about it, although in some cases this will still be required. This means that when you apply for a job, you may not be required to disclose the fact that you had a conviction. Whereas before such a disclosure would work against you, now it is like starting over with a clean slate.
- Even people who have been convicted of traffic offences had a criminal record. It can be like a life sentence to have that hanging over your head, especially if it was many years ago and you’ve been clean ever since. Having the record of it ‘spent’ means you don’t have to have a criminal record.
- When you apply for a loan, if your previous conviction was anything to do with finances, you may very well be rejected. But if the conviction is ‘spent’ you won’t have to declare it and so are more likely to get the loan.
- Unauthorised disclosure of a spent conviction is prohibited, as is the use of this knowledge in any way. Therefore, you can be relatively sure that once your conviction is spent it will no longer be held against you and in fact, no one will know about it unless you choose to tell them.
- You will be able to travel overseas without being banned from certain countries due to a criminal record.
There will still be a few exceptions to the rule where you will still be required to disclose the fact of your conviction.
It is sometimes possible to get a spend conviction at the time of sentencing, but usually only if the offence was a minor one and the person has not had any prior convictions. Even then, the judge may not agree to give it.