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    Spent Convictions – a trap and a tip

    A distraught person saw me recently about a National Police Clearance Certificate the Police had issued to her. Her intended employer required this certificate before they would employ her.

    Over 35 years ago as a teenager, she had been convicted of shoplifting. When she received the Certificate she was astonished and distraught that this old (spent) conviction appeared on it. Her job had just gone up in smoke!

    Unless you consent, the Spent Convictions Act prohibits the police from including spent convictions on the certificate (offences committed more than 10 years ago; 5 years if you were a juvenile at the time of the offence). However they can include them if you intend to work in an ‘exempt occupation’.

    The Police said she had indicated in her application form that she consented to spent convictions being included. This was a Trap. There was no option on the form for her to say she did not consent.

    Trap – Make sure you always hand write on your application that you do not consent to ‘spent convictions’ being included.

    Secondly they said she declared she was intending to work with ‘the aged’ (an exempt occupation).

    Tip – If you are being employed in an exempt occupation (see below) remember, they can include spent convictions, even if you don’t consent, but you can apply to a Court to compel the police to remove it from your certificate.

    We made an application to the Court for this client – the Court ordered that she get a perfectly clear Certificate!


    There are some circumstances where a record that is over ten years old will be released, these are:

    If the record check is for the purpose of:

    • Registration with a child-screening unit and/or Teaching institutions
    • Assisted Reproductive Treatment (Act 2008)
    • Registration and accreditation of health professionals
    • Employment or contact with prisons or state or territory police forces
    • Casino or Gaming Licence
    • Prostitution Service Provider’s Licence (Prostitution Control Act 1994)
    • Operator Accreditation under the Bus Safety Act (2009)
    • Private Security Licence (Private Security Amendment Act 2010)
    • Taxi Services Commission (Transport, Compliance & Miscellaneous Act 1983 & Road Safety Act 1986)
    • Firearms Licence (Firearms Act 1996)
    • Admission to legal profession (Legal Profession Act 2004)
    • Building and Plumbing practitioner (The Building Act 1993)
    • Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC)
    • Poppy Industry (Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substance Act 1981)
    • Honorary Justice (The Honorary Justices Act 2014)
    • Marriage Celebrants Registration
    • Court Services
    • If the record includes a serious offence of violence or a sex offence and the records check is for the purposes of employment or voluntary work with children or vulnerable people
    • In circumstances where the release of information is considered to be in the interests of security, crime prevention or the administration of justice and/or otherwise necessary for the proper, legal or statutory assessment of an applicant
    • Some state Police will release traffic offences where the court outcome was a sentence of imprisonment or detention
    • Serious Offences where the result was ‘Acquitted by reason of insanity/mental impairment’ or ‘Not guilty by reason of insanity/mental impairment’.

    CAUTION: This article contains general information of public interest only and is not intended to be, nor should be relied upon as, legal advice specific to the reader’s personal circumstances. Should you have a legal matter, please seek professional advice before acting or relying on this content.

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