Disclaimer: The material in this fact sheet is intended as a general guide only. You should not act on the basis of this information in this fact sheet without first getting legal advice about your own particular situation.
If you have been in trouble with the police or the Courts, you may end up with a criminal record.
Whether or not your past interactions with police or the courts will lead to a criminal record, and whether that criminal record will be disclosed to other people such as future employers, depends on a number of things.
You should understand the effect that having a criminal record can have on your life and whether your criminal record is likely to affect you in the future.
What is a prior conviction?
Any time you plead guilty to or are found guilty of a charge by a Court, you will have a finding of guilt recorded on your Criminal Record.
Depending on factors including the seriousness of the charge, the circumstances of the offender and whether they have been in trouble before, a Judge or Magistrate may record this finding of guilt with conviction, or without conviction.
Whether or not the finding of guilt is recorded with or without conviction, it will remain on the person’s criminal record and be released by Victoria Police in accordance with their policy.
What is Victoria Police’s Policy about Releasing Prior Convictions?
If a person was an adult when they received a finding of guilt from a Court, if they do not re-offend over the next 10 years then after that time the offence will not be released. However, if they re-offend again after 10 years, it will be released along with any other findings of guilt.
The policy is the same for people under 18 at the time of the offence, except the period that they must not re-offend is 5 years instead of 10.
An exception to this is if the finding of guilt resulted in a sentence of imprisonment of longer than 30 months. Another exception is if the police record check is for certain purposes, including to become registered as a teacher, a doctor, a prison or police officer, a lawyer or some other professions. In these cases, Victoria Police will always release findings of guilt, even if the person never re-offends in the future.
What is a Spent Conviction?
A Spent Conviction is a finding of guilt by a Court that has been entirely wiped from a person’s record.
Unlike all other states in Australia, Victoria does not have a spent convictions scheme.
Instead, whether or not your prior conviction or finding of guilt will be released to employers or others is decided by Victoria Police in accordance with their policy (described above).
What Effect Can a Criminal Record Have?
Having a criminal record can effect many different areas of a person’s life, however the most common is in finding employment.
Employers must get your consent to do a Criminal Record Check with police. You can refuse to consent, however you might find that if you refuse then you will not get the job. If you consent to the Police Record Check, your criminal history will be released by Victoria Police in accordance with their policy (described above).
There is no protected attribute in Victoria of ‘Discrimination on the basis of an irrelevant criminal record’, which means that once an employer sees your criminal history, they are entitled to refuse to give you the job, even if the offence you committed is very old or not relevant to your ability to do the job.
Working With Children Checks
Having a criminal record can also affect your ability to obtain a Working With Children Check, which can prohibit you from working or volunteering in a range of areas.
A criminal record can also affect your ability to travel overseas, as many countries require you to disclose any criminal convictions before granting you a Visa.
Getting Legal Help
If you are under 25 and need free and confidential legal advice:
Drop-in: 2-5pm, Mon, Tues, Thurs & -Fri
at Frontyard Youth Services
19 King Street Melbourne
Under 25’s only, no appointment necessary
Or if you would like legal information, contact us:
Phone: (03) 9611 2412 (9am-5pm, Mon-Fri)
Victoria Legal Aid
Victoria Legal Aid gives free information about the law and can also provide legal help.
Phone: (03) 9269 0210
Further criminal fact sheets are also available from Woor-Dungin:
For more information about criminal records in Victoria, check out the following publication from the North Melbourne Legal Service:
To find out more about the information Victoria Police release on a National Police Certificate, head to:
To apply for a National Police Certificate check in Victoria, go to:
If you are under 25 and you have been treated unfairly because of your criminal record or you think your record might be wrong, you should contact Youthlaw for more information and advice.