All Australian citizens are allowed to have their old convictions spent, but the legislation on this matter differs from state to state. If you live in Western Australia here’s what you need to know about spent convictions and how you can have them struck off your criminal record.
Spent convictions law in Western Australia
The Spent Convictions Act of 1988 makes a clear distinction between lesser convictions and serious one, and allows citizens in Western Australia to have old convictions removed from their record even if they fall into the serious offences category. This doesn’t happen in other parts of Australia where only less serious convictions can become spent. The question of the process to apply for old convictions to be spent in WA often arises when persons apply for WA police checks and then realise that there are old conviction/s on their national police certificate which are eligible for being spent and should not show on the certificate.
According to WA law, less serious convictions are those for which a sentence of less than 12 months in prison is imposed. Serious offences are those for which the prison term is 12 months or more or those for which a fine of $15,000 or more was imposed.
What is the waiting period in Western Australia?
Adults convicted in WA need to wait for 10 years before they can apply for their convictions to be spent. Juveniles, who were less than 18 years of age at the time of the offence, can apply for their convictions to be spent after only two years, whereas in other parts of the country the mandated waiting period for minors in five years.
Keep in mind that the waiting period starts from the moment your prison term ends, even if you served less. This means that if you were sentenced to five years of imprisonment, but were released after three years the waiting period starts only when your original sentence ends.
How do you apply to have your convictions spent?
Whereas in other parts of the country the process is automatic, in Western Australia the ex-felon needs to apply to have his or her conviction spent.
For less serious offences, you can apply to the Police Commissioner. On the other hand, if you need a national police certificate as part of the pre-employment screening process, you don’t have to make a special request for your old conviction to be spent. The moment you apply for a background check, such a request is automatically included and the conviction eligible to become spent won’t appear on your national police certificate.
For serious offences, you have to apply to a District Court to have the conviction spent. You can find all the information concerning every step of the process here.
Do you have to declare spent convictions?
Once your application to have an old conviction spent is accepted, you do not have to disclose it to anyone. You should know that it is illegal for anyone, such as a prospective employer, to discriminate against based on spent convictions. Also, unlawfully obtaining information about another person’s spent conviction is an offence punishable by law.
However, if you need a special Working With Children Check when you apply for certain positions your spent convictions will be disclosed during the verification process.