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The new spent convictions laws: Can I get my old conviction removed from my record?

What is the spent conviction legislation?  

The spent conviction laws offer a second chance for people who have served their sentence and rehabilitated. Allowing them to travel or gain new employment. The Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic) has passed to become law in Victoria. This means that old convictions or convictions that were committed when the person was a child become “spent convictions”. For the majority of offences this is automatic after either 5 years for a child or young offender or 10 years for an adult. This is automatic (meaning you don’t have to do anything) and it actually becomes an offence to disclose spent convictions, punishable by a large fine of 40 penalty units. This is a huge win for thousands of people that allows them to move on with their lives and have a second chance. A spent conviction will not be disclosed on police record checks and should allow you to travel overseas. It has been described as providing a “fairer Victoria” by Victorian Legal Aid and has been applauded by Liberty Victoria.  

What about serious convictions? How can they be removed from my record?  

Certain criminal offences classified as “serious convictions” and they are not automatically spent after the conviction period. These are for crimes that result in either:  

  1. A conviction for a crime that had imprisonment or detention for 30 months or more;  
  2. A conviction of a person for a sexual offence; or  
  3. A conviction of a person for a serious violent offence.  

At Marshall Jovanovska Ralph Criminal Lawyers we have represented hundreds of people since 2003 that have been convicted of a “serious conviction”. However, that does not mean that the conviction will remain on their record forever. Due to the new legislation it will be possible to apply to the court for a “Spent Conviction Order” so a magistrate can consider whether or not to make an order removing the conviction from your record.  

What does the magistrate consider in making a “spent conviction order”?  

The court will take into account rehabilitation that has happened between when the conviction was first imposed all the way up to today. The court will consider the following in making a “spent conviction order”:  

  • The nature, circumstances and seriousness of the original offence;  
  • The impact on any victims including at the time and potentially to this day;  
  • Your personal circumstances both at the time of the offending and today;  
  • Whether you or your family member is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander;  
  • Your age and maturity when the offence was committed;  
  • Demonstrated rehabilitation that has occurred;  
  • Any continuing risk to the public safety in making a spent conviction order; and  
  • Any other matter the court considers relevant.  

Just because the crime that you or a loved one committed resulted in a serious conviction, that doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve a second chance. A conviction can often cast a long shadow over people’s lives and it is absolutely worth contacting us to see whether we can assist in getting you or your family member a “spent conviction”. Our firm believes in second chances and will help you through this process and represent you in court.  

Please remember that every case is different and that this nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, you should contact a lawyer before relying on any information in this article.