This information explains what it means to have a conviction that is spent. Find out:
- What happens when a conviction is spent
- Whether you need to disclose spent convictions
- When you have to disclose a spent conviction
- How you can apply for a conviction to be spent
What happens when a conviction is spent?
Having a conviction spent does not change the penalty (sentence) for a conviction.
If a conviction is spent, you generally do not have to disclose that you were convicted of that offence. The conviction doesn’t disappear completely. It remains part of your private criminal record kept by the police. It will appear on your History for Court, but it will not be included as a disclosable conviction when you apply for a National Police Certificate.
As spent convictions remain part of your criminal history, they can be taken into account when police or a court are considering bail, or a court is sentencing you for a new offence. Spent convictions are also considered when you apply for a Working With Children Check.
Do I need to disclose spent convictions?
In general, you do not need to tell people about spent convictions that do not appear on your National Police Certificate. Spent convictions cannot be considered if you are asked to show that you are a ‘fit and proper person’ under a WA law.
In general, it is against the law for current or potential employers, unions, associations, licencing boards or professional regulators to discriminate against you because of spent convictions. If you are discriminated against because of your spent convictions, you can complain to the Equal Opportunity Commission.
When do I need to tell people about a spent conviction?
There are some exceptions where you will have to disclose that you have spent convictions.
Common situations include if you:
- are applying for certain jobs, including as a police, prison or transport officer
- want to work in certain places, including schools, hospitals and child care centres
- have applied for special licences, such as security agents, child care providers, casino employees, or to have firearms, or
- are applying for an Australian visa.
If you are going to be involved in certain activities that will involve children, you may also be required to disclose if you have spent convictions for specific serious offences (such as assaults, homicides and sexual offences).
The full list of exceptions and activities is found at the end of the Spent Convictions Act 1998 (WA).
You should get legal advice if you are unsure whether you need to disclose a spent conviction, or think you may have been unfairly discriminated against because of a spent conviction.
How do I apply to have a conviction spent?
If you are in court for an offence, you may be able to ask the court to make a Spent Conviction Order when you are being sentenced.
You can also apply to have old convictions declared spent after enough time has passed.
Reviewed: 7 August 2023