People who have had some problems with the law and found themselves convicted for an offence often have trouble finding employment once they’re served their time in prison. Even if someone was convicted of a minor offence, they still carry the stigma of being an ex-con and many recruiting agents will prefer to look for another candidate for the job, someone with a clean record.
This is the reason why all Australian states and territories use the spent convictions scheme, to give a fair chance to these people. A major crime will always stay on your criminal record, but a minor offence, something stupid you did when you were young and foolish, that can be forgiven and forgotten.
Here’s how the spent convictions scheme works and how it can help you when you have to undergo a pre-employment background check.
What is the Commonwealth Spent Convictions Scheme?
The Commonwealth Spent Convictions Scheme was introduced to help people with certain minor convictions on their record to put the past behind them and find a decent job, without having to worry about being an ex-con. Generally speaking, the law says that minor offences can become spent after a certain waiting period, usually 10 years for those sentenced as adults and 5 year for juvenile offenders.
What does it mean that a conviction is spent? To put it simply, it will no longer be disclosed when you have to submit to a police check as part of your pre-employment screening. The conviction is still there on your record. It’s just that it can no longer be disclosed and your future employer won’t know about it.
How can I check what’s on my criminal record?
While the Commonwealth Spent Convictions Scheme is very clear, the various Australian states and territories have their own interpretation of the law. This means that provisions vary from state to state.
In some parts of the country, a minor conviction eligible to become spent is one for which the sentence imposed was less than 12 months in prison. However, there are states like Victoria or Queensland where the law is more permissive and the spent convictions scheme applies to convictions of up to 30 months in prison.
At the same time, in some states the waiting period starts from the moment a person is convicted in a court of law, while in other states the clock only starts ticking from the moment that person is released from jail.
This can be very confusing for ordinary people so the best way to find out if a certain conviction has become spent is to order a background check on yourself. You don’t have to go to the police station for that, as these days you can order a background check online using an accredited character check agency like the following site for ANCC – https://www.australiannationalcharactercheck.com.au
You can access the agency’s platform from your laptop, tablet or even mobile phone and it only takes a couple of minutes to enter the required information and upload a selfie.
These agencies can access the police databases in the whole country so you can easily find out the status of an offence committed anywhere in Australia.
Do I have to disclose a spent conviction?
Let’s say you just got the result of your police check and you discovered that an old conviction had become spent and is no longer disclosable during a routine background check. What do you do at the job Interview? That’s easy. According to the law, once your conviction has become spent you are entitled to say you were never found guilty or in prison, even under oath, not only during a job interview. As far as anyone is concerned you’re once again a decent, law-abiding citizen, and this will vastly improve your chances of getting a job.