Police & Criminal Record Checks

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Much of the information on this page has been taken from the Victoria Police Information Release Policy May 2019

On this page

  • Finding of guilt without conviction, good behaviour bonds, outstanding charges, and traffic matters
  • Exceptions
  • Offences outside of Victoria 
  • More information
  • Spent convictions scheme

Sometimes you might be asked to provide your criminal history information (a “police check”) for paid or volunteer work or for travelling overseas.

Victoria Police will only release criminal history information (police operations and court proceedings) if you consent (agree) to it. 

What is released depends on a number of factors, including when you were last found guilty of an offence, whether you were given a Community Corrections Order or prison sentence, how long your prison sentence was, if you were acquitted or found not guilty by reason of mental impairment, or if you are currently under investigation.

In Victoria, the release of your police record is governed by Victoria Police policy. The general policy of Victoria Police is to release all findings of guilt (including without conviction) that are up to 10 years of (for people who were 18+ when found guilty) and up to 5 years old (for people under 18 when found guilty).

This means that, if it has been less than 10 years (or 5 years for children) since your last finding of guilt, then all findings of guilt will be released – including those more than 10 years old and juvenile offences. 

Victoria Police releases criminal history information on the basis of findings of guilt regardless of whether or not a conviction is recorded. Victoria Police releases police records in accordance with any or all of the following guidelines:

  • If the individual was an adult (seventeen years or over) when last found guilty of an offence and ten years have elapsed, no details of previous offences will be released
  • If the individual was a child (under seventeen years) when last found guilty of an offence and five years have elapsed, no details of previous offences will be released. (Exception: court orders on care/protection applications will not be released regardless of the age of the order)
  • If the last finding of guilt resulted in a non-custodial sentence or a custodial sentence of 30 months or less, the ten or five-year period commences from the day the individual was found guilty
  • If the last finding of guilt is an appeal or re-hearing the ten or five year period will be calculated from the original court date
  • If the last offence qualifies to be released, then all findings of guilt will be released, including juvenile offences
  • If the record contains an offence that resulted in a custodial sentence of longer than 30 months the offence will always be released. If 10 years have elapsed since the last finding of guilt, then only the offence(s) that resulted in a custodial sentence of longer than 30 months will be released.

Findings of guilt without conviction, good behaviour bonds, outstanding charges and traffic matters

Findings of guilt without conviction and findings resulting in a good behaviour bond are considered to be findings of guilt and will be released under the current Victoria Police policy.

If the check shows that the individual has been charged with offences, or is under investigation regarding outstanding matters that have not yet been heard at court, Victoria Police will release details of the charges or pending matters and state that they are yet to be determined at court.

Victoria Police only releases traffic offences where the court outcome was imprisonment or detention.

Exceptions

Sometimes a record that is over ten years old may still be released. These are:

  • If the record includes a term of imprisonment longer than thirty months
  • If the record includes a serious offence of violence or a sex offence and the records check is for the purposes of employment or voluntary work with children, elderly, disabled or vulnerable people
  • If the records check is for the purposes of employment in prisons, state or territory police forces or the gaming industry
  • In other exceptional circumstances where the release of older information is in the interests of crime prevention, the administration of justice or public safety

Offences outside Victoria

Where a police record with another Australian police force has been obtained, any relevant legislation (and/or release policy) affecting that police force will be applied (including Victoria Police’s ‘Information Release Policy’) before it is released.

Under various pieces of Commonwealth, State and Territory legislation a person has the right, in particular circumstances or for a particular purpose, to not disclose certain convictions (eg findings of guilt over a certain age). Such convictions (widely referred to as ‘spent’ or ‘rehabilitated’ convictions) will not be released unless the records check is for the applicant’s personal information only and providing that this is in accordance with relevant legislation (and/or release policy). Please contact individual police jurisdictions directly for further information about their release policies and legislation.

Want more information?

Check out Victoria Legal Aid’s page on criminal records or read the Victoria Police Information Release Policy

Spent Convictions Scheme – hopefully coming soon!

Having a criminal history can be a huge barrier for some people to stay and get re-involved in the community. It can impact on people’s job prospects and even the capacity of family members to have jobs at your home like caring for children. It can also impact on your volunteer work and ability to travel overseas. And police checks don’t tell the whole story: you can be charged with ‘carrying a weapon’ for having pair of scissors in your bag – or you can be charged with ‘drug trafficking’ for selling a small amount of marijuana to a friend. 

Victoria does NOT have a spent convictions scheme. But the Victorian parliament has committed to introducing one. 

A spent conviction scheme would mean that some types of offences won’t show up on a police check. A conviction is “spent” once a certain amount of time has passed – and once it is spent it won’t come up on future checks, even if you are found guilty of more offences. 

You can read the report given to parliament here.

You can read the Fitzroy Legal Service submission to the inquiry here.

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