As of 1st December 2021, Victoria implemented a spent convictions scheme, which holds significant importance for individuals with past convictions. A spent conviction is one that no longer forms part of your criminal record, and in most cases, you are not obligated to disclose it.
There are three types of spent convictions in Victoria:
a. Convictions immediately spent, such as infringement convictions.
b. Convictions spent automatically, provided you don’t reoffend for a specific period.
c. Convictions spent following a court order.
For more detailed information about spent convictions and their implications for community members, visit the Department of Justice and Community Safety’s website.
Convictions Spent Following a Court Order (Serious Convictions)
Some convictions are not automatically spent and are referred to as serious convictions. To have a serious conviction spent, individuals may need to apply to the Magistrates’ Court. Serious convictions include offenses like sexual offenses, serious violence offenses, and cases where the individual spent more than 30 months in jail or detention. Victoria Legal Aid does not offer assistance for spent conviction applications.
If you require help with your spent conviction application, you can reach out to the Law Institute of Victoria’s find a lawyer service to assist with your application.
Your driving record maintained by VicRoads contains information about driving offences where you were found guilty by a court, fines for drink or drug driving, speeding fines leading to license loss, traffic camera offenses, and the number of demerit points on your license. You can request a copy of your driving history from VicRoads.
Criminal Records in Victoria Held by Police
Victoria Police maintains the Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP) database, which contains detailed information about an individual’s involvement with the criminal justice system in Victoria. This includes records from the Magistrates’, Children’s, County, and Supreme courts, even if the individual was found not guilty or the matter was diverted. However, police will not release this information if the individual was found not guilty or completed a diversion program.
Criminal Records in Victoria from Interstate
Interstate police also keep similar databases of criminal histories, and Victoria Police can access these records when required.
In court proceedings, police prosecutors may use information from the LEAP database to inform the court about an individual’s history of offending. The court considers this record when determining an appropriate penalty for a new offence, regardless of how long ago the prior conviction occurred and the individual’s age at the time of the offence.
Certain driving infringements, such as drink driving or drug driving, are recorded in your criminal record if convicted. These are known as infringement convictions. However, they won’t be listed in the prior convictions that police use in court unless you are convicted of a similar driving offence.
Who Else Can See My Criminal Records in Victoria?
Victoria Police may disclose information in your criminal record to other organisations or individuals if you give written consent. This consent may be required for certain job applications, visa applications, or security-related purposes. However, police generally won’t disclose spent convictions, unless there is an exemption.
Employer Inquiries About Criminal Records in Victoria
Employers are increasingly interested in conducting criminal record checks on potential employees. An employer may inquire about an individual’s criminal record, findings of guilt, convictions, or any time spent in prison. However, since the implementation of the spent convictions scheme, employers cannot inquire about spent convictions in most cases.
Legality of Criminal Record Inquiries by Employers
As of 1st December 2021, employers cannot discriminate against individuals based on spent convictions. While there are no specific laws in Victoria against employers discriminating against someone due to a current criminal record, the spent convictions scheme prohibits discrimination based on spent convictions.
Inquiries from Embassies for Visa Approval
For individuals planning to travel overseas and requiring a visa, the relevant embassy may inquire about criminal records, findings of guilt, convictions, or any time spent in prison. Some countries have laws that may prevent people with certain convictions from entering their country.
How Far Back Do Criminal Record Checks Go?
The availability of criminal records depends on the age of the person at the time of sentencing. Criminal records in Victoria are available for ten years from the time of sentencing for individuals aged 18 or over at the time of sentencing, and for five years for those under 18 at the time of sentencing. However, certain circumstances may allow older records to be released.