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How do I Clear my Criminal Record?

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This legislation is commonly referred to as 'spent convictions' legislation.

Once an individual has a criminal offence proven against them, that information or conviction remains on a person’s record in perpetuity unless the condition is overturned or quashed.

It is obvious that the indelible stain of a past indiscretion can hinder a person’s rehabilitation. The current policy stalks that individual for the remainer of their life. The current policy contradicts factors that the court must take into account when deciding to record a conviction or not to record a conviction. The Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) refers to factors that the court can take into account when deciding to record a non-conviction including, the persons economic or social wellbeing and the impact that such a conviction will have on that person’s employment prospects. Often a judge or magistrate when not recording a conviction encourages the person to put the discretion behind them and to continue rebuilding and moving on with their lives. In reality, it is very difficult for people to move forward. Criminal history checks affect almost everyone these days. Major employers such as McDonalds’ have a mandatory criminal history check system throughout Australia.

What are the Spent Conviction laws in Victoria?

Victoria is the only jurisdiction in Australia that does not have a legislative scheme whereby convictions for minor offences could be removed from an individual’s record if that person has not reoffended over a period of time.

Every other State and Territory within Australia has a mechanism whereby convictions are referred to as ‘spent’ and removed from official records and prevented from disclosure after a fixed period of time. Convictions can be removed from the record if the individual does not reoffend during the fixed period of time.

What changes to the Spent Conviction Scheme Bill have been proposed to Parliament?

The Victorian parliament has before it, The Spent Conviction Scheme Bill which proposes to introduce the following changes to our existing system;

  • For adults found guilty of offences where the punishment was imprisonment for six months or less – the finding of guilty won’t appear on their criminal record after five years for summary offences and 10 years for indictable offences if they have not reoffended in that time.
  • For children where they have received a finding of guilt, the finding of guilt will expire if the individual has not reoffended within three years from the date of the finding.

The above changes are clearly needed to assist the many Victorians who have had a finding of guilt made against them for relatively minor one-off offending and find it difficult to apply for jobs. In some instances, some individuals are too afraid to even complete applications for employment because of their concerns that a police check will reveal their past mistakes, no matter how minor.

What is the current status of the Bill as of 20 January 2020?

The Spent Conviction Scheme Bill is currently before parliament.

It is not a government Bill and the government is yet to state its position on the Bill. The government should be encouraged by all members of the community on both sides of politics to support the Bill whereby a legislative framework enables the spent convictions schemes.

It has been a long time coming and would finally bring Victoria into line with other practises carried out throughout Australia.