Understanding Criminal Records in Western Australia
Convictions for most crimes appear on your record, but in some instances the disclosure of a conviction can be prevented
The government of Western Australia keeps track of your criminal convictions. This article will help you understand what you can do to control the portions of your criminal record that are released to others.
What Goes Into a Criminal Record?
If you have gone to court and been convicted of an offence, you probably have a criminal record. Convictions can occur due to a guilty plea, a guilty verdict after a trial, or (in some instances) a default that results from your failure to appear in court. A criminal charge that is dismissed or that ends with a “not guilty” verdict will not give you a criminal record.
Local government offences, such as parking violations, will not appear on your criminal record. An offence charged by an infringement notice will not result in a criminal record if you pay the amount stated on the notice without going to court. The record of demerit points assessed against your driver license is not a criminal record. If you go to court for traffic offense and are convicted, however, the traffic conviction might appear on your criminal record.
Who Can See my Criminal Record?
The police generally will not release your criminal record to members of the public without your consent. The police will make your record available to other police agencies and to courts that request it.
You can obtain a copy of your own criminal record. You may need to supply a copy of your criminal record if you apply for an overseas visa, make an insurance application, or apply for certain kinds of employment (such as childcare). If you make that request, you will receive a “National Police Certificate” that discloses your record. It will include convictions from other states and territories, not just those you received in Western Australia.
What is a “Spent” Conviction?
In certain instances, a judge can decide that your conviction should not be reported on the part of your criminal record that is reported to private entitles (such as employers), even if you plead guilty or are convicted after a trial. The judge can make that order at the time you are sentenced for the crime. Convictions that are not reported are called “spent” convictions.
Whether to give you a “spent” conviction at the time of sentencing is up to the judge. However, the judge has no discretion to give you a “spent” conviction if you are sentenced to a term of imprisonment, even if that sentence is stayed. To learn whether you might benefit from a “spent” conviction in your case, you should consult a lawyer.
You can also apply to have a conviction “spent” if it is more than ten years old. Certain convictions must always be disclosed on your National Police Certificate, no matter how old they are.