WHAT IS A CRIMINAL RECORD?
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.
CRIMINAL RECORDS CHECK
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
- 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’.
EFFECTS ON YOUR EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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.
EFFECTS ON OVERSEAS TRAVEL AND LIVING
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.
ARE ALL MY CONVICTIONS RECORDED?
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.
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