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Past Criminal Record Disclosed in Newspaper - Is It Legal?

Discussion in 'Criminal Law Forum' started by jayjay, 2 January 2015.

  1. jayjay

    jayjay New Member

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    Hi. I was convicted for a crime 30 years ago. Recently an article in a local newspaper mentioned this (my criminal record), using my name. Is this legal?
     
  2. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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    It can be OK, yes. But not always.

    Criminal records are not private, in the sense that sentences and penalties
    imposed on convicted persons are almost always imposed in open court,
    and are a matter of public record - Justice, quite literally, being seen to be done.

    That said, there are certain circumstances where publishing this material is prohibited.
    Although it varies by jurisdiction, these include:
    • If the offender was a child or young person at the time; and/or
    • If one of the co-offenders, or a victim, or a witness,
      was a child or young person at the time; and/or
    • a court has made a suppression order or a non-publication order
      (this can be for one of the above reasons, or for some other reason,
      such as if publication would hinder an ongoing investigation
      into something else); and/or
    • if evidence is heard in camera, that is, in "closed court";
    • there is some other public interest ground for making such an order.
    When you hear the media using words like "...who cannot be named for legal reasons",
    the above is usually the kind of thing they are talking about.

    Note that embarrassment and humiliation are not generally grounds for making a non-publication order.
    And I am not sure that you would have a basis for a defamation action either.
     
  3. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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    Further, I have not dealt with so-called "spent convictions"
    because it's more complex, and comes with more strings attached.
     

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