There are laws for when an individual’s older, less serious convictions (or findings of guilt) are no longer shown on their criminal record. The South Australian law for these ‘spent convictions’ is the Spent Convictions Act 2009.
Spent convictions protect people from unreasonable discrimination based on minor or old convictions, provided they haven’t re-offended. Making sure an individual’s past mistakes don’t affect the rest of their lives is part of rehabilitating offenders.
Some convictions are never spent, such as sex offences and convictions with sentences of more than 12 months imprisonment for adults, or 24 months imprisonment for juveniles.
Spent convictions do not show on a national police check. However, the law says they can be included for checks of people working or volunteering with children, people with disability, vulnerable people, or in the aged care sector.
If a Court proves an offence or finds an offender guilty but decides not to record a conviction against them, it is a spent offence.
If an offence is quashed (set aside) by a Court, the individual is given a pardon, or the qualification period lapses, it becomes a spent offence.
Otherwise, for adults in South Australia, an eligible conviction becomes spent after 10 years have passed since a Court proved the offence or found the offender guilty, provided the individual has been offence-free in this time. For juveniles in South Australia, it becomes spent after five years offence-free.
There are spent conviction laws covering federal and state-based offences in every state and territory, except Victoria. The Commonwealth Government also has overarching laws about how old conviction information is collected, used and shared.
Contact the police of the state or territory where you may have committed an offence to get more information about their information release policies and legislation.