Spent convictions and employment

In Western Australia, persons who have been convicted of “lesser convictions” may apply in the prescribed manner (to the WA Police) to have the conviction “spent”. In other words, under the Act, a person convicted of a “lesser offence” (ie an offence which on a statutory scale is not deemed to be as serious as some others) may apply to have the conviction ignored for various purposes, including for example being required to mention it in a job application.

What follows is an extract from the WA Police’s website which explains the law and the process involved in obtaining a spent conviction.

“The WA Police Force can only spend a lesser conviction heard in a WA Court. A lesser conviction is one for which a fine of $15,000 or less or a term of imprisonment of 12 months or less was imposed (this includes suspended imprisonment sentences).

The Spent Convictions Act 1988 states that a Western Australian conviction is not eligible to be spent until the prescribed period has expired.

In most cases, the prescribed period is defined as 10 years, plus any term of imprisonment imposed regardless of the period actually served.

The prescribed period commences to run from the date of the most recent conviction in this or any other state or territory that resulted in a fine of over $500 or any type of penalty such as a court order or imprisonment.

A Serious Conviction is one for which the fine exceeds $15,000 or the term of imprisonment exceeds 12 months. Serious convictions can only be spent by a District Court judge. For more information please contact the District Court on (08) 9425 2222 or seek independent legal advice.

Having a conviction declared spent effectively limits the disclosure of that conviction. For example, a conviction which has been spent is not listed on a National Police Certificate. However, certain government departments, licensing bodies as well as the Police and Courts of Law have exemptions under the Spent Convictions Act 1988 and have access to convictions that have been spent.

If a conviction is considered spent, the individual is not obliged to disclose any details of that conviction and any questions concerning an individual’s criminal history is taken to refer only to any convictions which are not spent.

Finally, where an Act or statutory instrument applies to a person, any reference to a conviction is taken to be a reference only to any convictions of the person which are not spent, and any reference to a person’s character or fitness does not provide for consideration of spent convictions in that assessment. Certain exceptions apply and are detailed in the Spent Convictions Act 1988.”