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What is a criminal record?

As a general rule, the criminal record of a person is kept confidential. There are limited instances, however, when a criminal record is released such as when it is the court that is requesting for the disclosure.

A criminal record is the formal record of a person’s offences for which said person was convicted in court. A person is convicted after pleading guilty or has been found guilty after a trial. Only convictions will appear in the criminal record, not the criminal charges.

As for convictions for traffic offences these may or may not be included in the criminal record but in a separate traffic record.

What is in a criminal record?

The criminal record will reflect a basic description of the crime for which the person is convicted, when the decision was rendered and the penalty.

If a criminal record is to be used for employment purposes only those convictions that are allowed to be disclosed will be included but excluding those “spent” convictions.

Convictions will remain on a person’s criminal record unless these are “spent” but convictions will still show up in a person’s record if it is being considered by the police or a criminal court. A criminal record for criminal court purposes will include a person’s records for both criminal and traffic offence convictions notwithstanding if these convictions are “spent”.

Violations of the local government’s regulations if punishable by infringement notices only are excluded from a criminal record.   Convictions under the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA) which are more than 20 years old cannot be taken into account against a person who is charged with a subsequent offence in court.

What is a “spent” conviction?

Generally, “spent” convictions are excluded in a criminal record that is obtained for purposes of employment. However, in a criminal court and for certain types of employment, “spent” convictions are required to be disclosed. A “spent” conviction may be obtained by a person convicted of an offence either:

at the time of conviction by applying to the court to have the conviction “spent”; or
after 10 years by applying to the court to declare the conviction “spent”.

Safekeeping and release of criminal records

The police are responsible for keeping a person’s criminal records and also for releasing said records in accordance with state or territory law.  A criminal record can only be released with the convict’s consent except if it is the police or the courts requesting for such release. A person facing criminal charges can ask for a copy of criminal records from the prosecution which will include for both criminal and traffic convictions.

National Police Certificate

This is a certificate detailing a person’s criminal and traffic convictions in WA as well as convictions in other Australian states and territories. The certificate will also contain pending charges before the court that have not yet been resolved. However, spent convictions, pending traffic charges and WA infringements are excluded in the certificate.

The certificate can be obtained by paying a fee and completing an application form with an Australia Post outlet. 

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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