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Contact Us

Suite 309 – 310, Level 3
13A Montgomery Street

Ground Floor
54 Martin Place

Email: solicitors@gmhlegal.com
Phone: (02) 9587 0458
Facsimile: (02) 9587 2936


Criminal record information is classed as ‘sensitive information’ in the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act). Sensitive information is a subset of personal information that is given additional protections.

Criminal records may also be covered by the Commonwealth Spent Convictions Scheme under the Crimes Act 1914, or by a spent conviction scheme in a relevant state or territory. The Australian Information Commissioner has the power to investigate breaches of the legislation and is also required to provide advice to the Attorney-General in relation to exemptions under the scheme.

The Commonwealth Spent Convictions Scheme (the Scheme) allows an individual to not disclose certain criminal convictions after a sufficient period of good behaviour, and also prohibits unauthorised disclosure and use of this information.

It covers convictions for less serious federal, state (including the Northern Territory and ACT) and foreign offences, with varying protections available according to which type of offence (federal, state or foreign) gave rise to the conviction.

The Scheme also covers pardons and quashed convictions. A conviction for a State offence may also be covered by a spent conviction scheme in the relevant State or Territory.

There are some exclusions to the Scheme, but they are very limited. Where an exclusion applies, an individual will not have the right to withhold information about a conviction that would otherwise be spent.

An individual who believes that a person or a Commonwealth or State authority has breached the provisions of the Scheme can complain to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).


Police keep record on their database of all your involvement within the criminal system.

Criminal records can include the following information:

  • Appearances in Court
  • Outcome of cases, whether you were found guilty or not
  • Prior convictions
  • Infringements convictions (fines)
  • Criminal records from interstate
  • Various sentences, including penalties.

For more information, please refer to the Legal Aid’s ‘Criminal record’ section.


You can get a copy of your criminal record from the NSW or Federal Police by filling out an application form. A fee will usually be charged.

The NSW and Federal Police provides criminal records check for:

  • Australian residents
  • People seeking employment with the Commonwealth Government
  • People seeking employment as authorised carers
  • People requiring a check under Commonwealth legislation, e.g. ASIC, immigration purposes etc.
  • Overseas employment
  • Occupational licensing purposes
  • Student placements
  • Volunteers in aged-care facilities
  • Adoption
  • Visa application

In NSW, any residents age 14 years and above can apply for a criminal record check. It costs approximately $30.

For more information or if you wish to apply for a criminal record check, please refer to the NSW Police’s ‘Criminal record section’.


Working with children

An employer cannot employ a person in child-related employment if that person has been convicted of serious sex or violence offences. Such employment includes: pre-schools and schools, hospitals treating children, babysitters, clubs where children are members or school buses.

If you wish to apply for jobs working with children and young people, including volunteer jobs, you will need a ‘Working with children check’.

For more information or if you wish to apply for a ‘Working with children check’, please contact the NSW Commission for Children and Young People.

Working in the public sector

A criminal conviction may affect your ability to obtain or retain employment in the public sector. The public sector employment guidelines mandate a check of criminal record once a position has been offered.

A public servant employed by the NSW Government who is convicted of a serious offence (one punishable by a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more) may be subject to disciplinary or remedial action)

According to the public sector employment guidelines, the check, except for sexual offences, generally goes back 10 years in practice. The guidelines also provide the applicant with an opportunity to discuss any convictions before a final decision is made in regard to employment.

Working in the business and trade sector

Convictions, generally the ones involving fraud or dishonesty, may stop you from getting hired in the business and trade sector. It may also stop you from being the director of a company.

Medical practitioners, nurses, dentists, opticians and optometrists may be denied registration to the appropriate medical registration board.


If you wish to travel overseas you may need to get a visa approved from the relevant embassy.

It is important to note that before approving the visa, the embassy may want to know if you have:

  • A criminal record
  • Any findings of guilt
  • Any convictions
  • Spent any time in prison

Embassies are usually interested in whether you have had any involvement in the offences listed below prior to completing your visa application:

  • Drug Offences
  • Assault Offences
  • Affray & Public Violence
  • Drink Driving Offences

Past convictions are not relevant to the issuing of an Australian passport. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is only concerned if you have:

  • Any outstanding warrants for your arrest
  • If you are on Commonwealth parole
  • If a Court has ordered you to refrain from applying for a passport
  • Any relevant bail conditions.


If you are found guilty of an offence committed as an adult, a conviction will automatically be recorded.

However, according to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW), under special circumstances, the Court may dismiss the charge without a conviction.

Factors that may be considered by the Court with regard to application of section 10:

  • Seriousness of offence committed; and
  • Plea of guilty; and
  • Existence of prior criminal record; and
  • Age of alleged perpetrator (either very young or very old)
  • Physical/mental health of alleged perpetrator

When you are given an infringement notice (on-the-spot fines), no conviction is recorded against you. However if you decide to take the matter to court and the court finds you guilty, or if you plead guilty, a conviction may be recorded.


In NSW most convictions are capable of becoming ‘spent’, meaning they can generally be disregarded and you will no longer be obliged to disclose them.

The following conditions apply to convictions for a Commonwealth. Territory, State or foreign offence:

  • It has been 10 years from the date of convictions (or 5 years for juvenile offenders); and
  • The individual was not sentenced to imprisonment from more than 30 months; and
  • The individual has not re-offended during the 10 years waiting period (5 years for juvenile); and
  • A statutory or regulatory exclusion does not apply.

Please note that if you are applying for one of the jobs listed below, you may be required to disclose your spent convictions:

  • Judge, magistrate or Justice of the Peace
  • Police officer
  • Prison officer
  • Teacher or teacher’s aide
  • Child care worker
  • Fire fighter
  • Member of a governmental or international agency.

For more information, please refer to the Australian Federal Police’s ‘Spent conviction scheme’ section.

Call the experienced team at GMH Legal to assist you in your matter. A free consultation with GMH Legal is an opportunity to gain deep insights into your legal situation and all of your options.

Why Choose GMH Legal?

  • Over 60 years of combined legal experience
  • Outstanding track record with a winning approach
  • First appointment is always free
  • Meet our team now.

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