In simple terms, a criminal conviction is when a court finds an accused person guilty of committing a criminal offence.
If the police have charged you with committing a crime, it is important for you to understand the likely consequences of a criminal conviction and what a criminal record can mean for your future.
A conviction can have wider implications than the immediate prospect of jail time and or a fine. It can impact your future employment prospects and can prevent you from being able to travel to certain countries (for example, you may not be permitted to enter the United States).
In Australia, a criminal conviction can stay with a person for many years. That said, in most cases there is a time limit after which the conviction will no longer be reported by the police and other government agencies. After this time, the conviction is said to be ‘spent’.
Generally, a conviction that has resulted in imprisonment of less than 30 months or no jail time will be spent after:
- 10 years for adult offenders, or
- 5 years for juveniles.
This waiting period is to show that a person has been of ‘good behaviour’ since committing the criminal offence.
It is important to note that for convictions that have resulted in more than a 30-month imprisonment and specifically those more serious offences, a person may not be able to have it noted as a spent conviction.
Judge discretion to not record a criminal conviction
In all Australian jurisdictions, judges have discretion to not record a conviction.
With so many criminal offences and how the courts can apply the various criminal laws, it is important to seek legal advice for your specific circumstances.
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