Spent Convictions - Criminal Records

We can help

McMahon Criminal Defence Lawyers have navigating the complexities of the Spent Convictions Scheme.

We understand that a criminal record can be a significant hurdle in life, which is why we offer a service in advising and drafting applications to have criminal convictions removed from your record. With our expertise and personalised approach, we’re committed to helping you clear your name and secure a brighter future.

Feel free read the following information and get in contact for an appointment to discuss making your application.

Contact us here.


Once a conviction becomes spent, it no longer forms part of the person’s criminal record. Aside from a narrow set of circumstances a person will generally not have to disclose it. This gives people clarity about when a criminal record will be released. See permitted disclosures.

See ss. 7, 8, 20, Part 2, Division 2—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

What is a criminal record?

A criminal record is a document produced by a law enforcement agency that sets out a person’s convictions.

See s. 3—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

What is a conviction?

A conviction is a finding of guilt made by a court for an offence. It includes findings of guilt whether or not they are recorded as a conviction, and includes both summary, indictable offences; and infringement convictions.

A finding of guilt includes a qualified finding of guilt under the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried Act 1997 (Vic) (CIMA) or a finding of guilty under an interstate or foreign law that corresponds to (CIMA).

An offence includes any foreign or interstate offence, which had it been committed in Victoria would have been an offence against this state.

See s. 5—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

Convictions before 1 December 2021

Convictions recorded before the commencement of the Act, will be included in this scheme. This means the law applies retrospectively to old convictions.

See s. 6—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

Which convictions are immediately spent?

Findings of guilt by a court, and infringement convictions are spent on the day the person is convicted. These are called immediately spent convictions, or convictions spent with immediate effect. These are convictions, whether recorded in Victoria, interstate or internationally where:
If a finding of guilt is made but a Court does not record a conviction (e.g. Section 76 Sentencing Act, proven without conviction)
Conviction is a qualified finding of guilt under the CIMA (or corresponding law)
The person was under 15 years old at the time they committed the offence (including serious convictions)
the only penalty was a fine in the Children’s Court (or equivalent)
</the penalty was an 
infringements conviction.*

*Infringement convictions are things like drink or drug driving or excessive speeding (that is, 25km/hr or more above the speed limit, or driving at more than 130km/hr in a 110km/hr zone) or drink driving while operating a boat.


Exception where delay in immediate spent conviction

Where the court imposed conditions to the penalty, the conviction does not become spent until the person has fulfilled the condition requirements of the penalty.

* e.g, If the client has been given an adjourned undertaking, to be of good behaviour (Good behaviour bond) this may show up on their criminal record check. Once the adjourned undertaking period is complete and the conditions have been met then the conviction will be automatically spent.

See s. 7—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

Spent conviction automatic provided no conviction / reoffending

A conviction will be spent automatically provided the person does not re-offend or is convicted* within the conviction period of either 10 years (Adults) or 5 years (Child or Young offenders 15-21 years). If they do, their time starts over again. Not all convictions are automatically spent. Serious convictions cannot be automatically spent.

*Presently, the Act does not make clear if the conviction period is restarted based on the date of the conviction or the date of the offence. This section will be updated once that issue has been addressed.

How long is the conviction period?

The conviction period is the amount of time needed to pass before a conviction is spent. This is calculated from the date that the court finds the person guilty of the offence that constitutes the conviction.

The conviction period is:

  • 10 years where the offence was committed by an adult
  • 5 years where the offence was committed by a child or eligible young offender.

See s. 9—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

Who is considered to be a child or young offender?

  • 15-18 years of age CYFA.
  • Young adults under 21 years of age.

A person will be considered to be a child if they were convicted under the Children Youth and Families Act 2005 or an equivalent Act (including similar interstate or overseas laws).

It also includes young offenders who are sentenced under the dual track system under the Sentencing Act 1991. This allows Victorian courts to sentence young adults under 21 to serve sentences in youth detention instead of adult prison. To qualify for this dual track system, the court must be convinced that the young offender has reasonable prospects of rehabilitation, or is particularly impressionable, immature or likely to be subjected to undesirable influences in an adult prison.

Note: A young offender must be no older than 20 at the time of the offence.

See s. 9—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic) and s. 32—Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic).

What are serious convictions?

Serious convictions, those which are not spent automatically after the offender has served the conviction period, are convictions:

  • where detention of more than 30 months is imposed
  • for a serious violence offence.

What are sexual offences?

*Sexual offences have a very broad meaning and it is currently unclear how a finding of guilt for summary offences (e.g distribution of an intimate image) will be treated under the spent conviction scheme.

Sexual offences would include;

  • sexual assault
  • rape
  • any offence involving a person engaging in sexual activity
  • any offence involving taking part in a sexual act
  • sexual offences against children
  • offences for child abuse material
  • indecency offences
  • some offences relating to children taking part in sex work
  • distributing an intimate image of a person under 18 years (‘sexting’ offence)

Sexual offences are defined under s4 of the Criminal Procedure Act (2009) VIC

Section 4(b),(c),(d),(e) & (f)

(b) an offence an element of which involves—

(i) any person engaging in sexual activity; or

(ii) any person taking part in a sexual act; or

(iii) commercial sexual services; or

(iv) a sexual performance involving a child;

(c) an offence an element of which involves—

(i) an intention that any of the conduct referred to in paragraph (b) is to occur; or

(ii) soliciting, procuring, enabling or threatening any of the conduct referred to in paragraph (b); or

(iii) inducing or knowingly allowing a child to enter or remain on premises so that any of the conduct referred to in paragraph (b) may occur;

(d) an offence an element of which involves child abuse material;

(e) an offence an element of which involves indecency;

(f) an offence of attempting to commit, or of incitement or conspiracy to commit, an offence referred to in paragraph (a), (b), (c), (d) or (e);

What are serious violence offences?

The Act refers to the list of serious violence offences in Schedule 2 of the Serious Offenders Act 2018.

A ‘serious violence offence’ refers to several specific offences, including:

• murder

• manslaughter

• child homicide

• homicide – including defensive homicide, homicide by firearm

• causing serious injury intentionally, including in circumstances of gross violence

• causing serious injury recklessly, including in circumstances of gross violence

• kidnapping

• arson causing death.

Conspiracy, incitement or attempt to commit to any of the above offences will also meet the definition of a ‘serious violence offence’

See s. 3—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

What happens if a person offends during the conviction period?

Note* The conviction period starts from the date of conviction, not the date the person is charged. The Spent Convictions Act does not expressly state that the further offence must have been committed during the conviction period. See example below.

If there are no pending offences:

If the person reoffends before their conviction period is up, that is they are convicted of another offence before the conviction period ends, the conviction period for the first conviction starts again. It starts from the date that the subsequent conviction is made.

For example, if an adult person is found guilty of an offence on 23 June 2018, their conviction would be due to end on 23 June 2028. If, however the person is convicted of another offence on 1 April 2021, their conviction period would not be due until 1 April 2031, provided they are not convicted of another offence during that time.

See s. 10—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

Example: A is an adult.

  • Amy is charged with offence (1) on 15 Jan 2020
  • Amy is then charged with offence (2) on 20 Jan 2020

Amy is sentenced for offence (2) on 10 Feb 2021 which means Amy’s conviction will be automatically spent on 10 Feb 2031. But…..

Amy then decides not to contest offence (1) and plea date is set with the Court. Amy is ‘convicted’ on 1 March 2022, Amy’s conviction period now starts again and will end on 1 March 2032.

When conviction period will not restart

The conviction period will not be restarted if the subsequent conviction is:

  • a fine of less than 10 penalty units (or equivalent outside Victoria)
  • only penalty is to pay an amount of compensation or restitution
  • without penalty, or
  • no conviction is recorded by the court.

See s. 10(3)—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

Application to a court for a conviction to be spent

The default commencement for Court ordered spent convictions is 1 July 2022.

What are Eligible Serious Convictions?

Applications can be made for a Serious Conviction if the person

  • a child or young offender
  • not a child or young offender but the offence was a serious violence or sexual offence and no imprisonment imposed, or
  • any term of imprisonment less than 5 years.

How, where & when are Applications made?

Application is made to Magistrates’ Court subject to the following conditions.

  • A person can apply for more than one conviction to be spent; but;
  • A person cannot apply until the day the conviction period expires for all offences;
  • If an application is rejected at first Application, a person must produce new supporting information if they wish to re-apply within 2 years of valid application being refused.
  • if the person has a disability, their appointed guardian may make an application on their behalf.

See Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

What needs to be included in your Application? – s12

S12 of the Act specifies that the Application must be in writing and set out:

  • Applicant’s full name
  • The conviction for which the order is sought
  • Information in support of the applicant’s rehabilitation
  • Any prescribed information.
  • Court may issue a written notice requiring an applicant to provide any further supporting information
  • Application must include any prescribed fee

The Court can refuse to accept Application it considers to be vexatious, misconceived or doesn’t comply with s 12

See s12 Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

What Factors does the Court use to decide – s19 of the Act

When exercising its discretion to make a spent conviction order, the court must consider:

  • the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the conviction offence
  • the impact on any victim of the offence
  • the applicant’s personal circumstances
  • for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander applicants, unique factors of their background affecting those persons including factors relating to their incarceration and
  • impacts on them of disclosure of a criminal record
  • the applicant’s age and maturity when the offence was committed
  • any demonstrated rehabilitation
  • any risk to public safety of making the order

any other matter that the Court considers relevant.

See, s19 Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

Effect of a spent conviction

Once a conviction is spent, it no longer forms part of the person’s criminal record. This means that the person is not required to disclose the existence of the conviction, or any information relating to that spent conviction to anyone else. People should not ask questions about spent convictions or questions related to the conviction once it is spent. There are offences for unlawful disclosure of spent convictions.

See ss. 20, 23—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

How to make sure an old conviction has been spent

After the conviction period has passed without the person being convicted of another offence, the person’s conviction should automatically be removed from their record. This means that it will not show up on a person’s record unless an exception applies or for the purposes of the administration of justice.

The Act makes it clear that a person can request their own criminal record (including spent convictions) from a law enforcement agency, court or tribunal.

A law enforcement agency is defined in section 3 and includes Victoria and interstate and Federal police, Commissioner of Corrections, Director of Fines Victoria.

See ss. 21(3)—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

Exceptions for administration of justice

There are exemptions that allow law enforcement agencies to disclose a spent conviction to specified persons or bodies if the recipient is getting the information for a specified purpose. People authorised to disclose and the purposes of disclosure are listed in Table 1 of the Act, which sits beneath section 22.

These specified bodies may disclose information relating to a spent conviction to:

  • a court or tribunal in the course of legal proceedings
  • pursuant to an order of a court or tribunal
  • to the extent reasonably required to enable the investigation or enforcement of law in Victoria or an interstate law
  • to an interstate police force
  • to a lawyer for the purpose of getting legal advice or representation

See ss. 21, 22—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic) and Table 1—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

Some permitted disclosures

These exemptions allow the agencies to make well-informed risk assessments. This includes licensing for trusted professions, checks for working with children and employment in certain government roles. Click here to see a full list. Of most relevance to VLA clients are:

  • Firearms
  • Courts
  • Visa Applications
  • working with children checks
  • employment of staff who work with children
  • employment of disability workers
  • registration and accreditation of health professionals
  • employment of staff working for Victoria Police
  • employment of staff at Court Services
  • admission of people to practice law
  • appointment of justices
  • employment of people working in corrections
  • administration and oversight of reportable conduct scheme
  • registration of marriage celebrants and ministers of religion.

For full details, see s. 22—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic) and Table 1—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

Misuse of spent conviction information

Unlawful to discriminate

From 1 December 2021, a spent conviction becomes a protected attribute for the purposes of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010(Vic). This makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person on the basis of a spent conviction. The bodies and purposes for which information about a spent conviction can be disclosed and used are set out in Table 1.

See s. 6(pb)—Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) 

Access without authority

It is an offence for a person who has access to information that they know, or ought reasonably to know, is a spent conviction unless they have lawful authority or written consent to make the disclosure by the person whose conviction is spent.

It is a defence to a charge of unlawful disclosure if the person can show that they took all reasonable steps to avoid unlawful disclosure.

Maximum penalty is 40 penalty units.

See ss. 23, 24—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).


Staff including volunteers working in libraries and archives who are acting in the course of their usual employment or duties may disclose information that is available to the public or another library or archive. provided it is disclosed according to established procedures of that library or archive.

See s. 23(3)—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

Obtaining spent conviction information by fraud

It is an offence to obtain information about a spent conviction by fraud or by using dishonest means.

The maximum penalty is 20 penalty units.

See s. 24—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

More information

Department of Justice

Spent conviction scheme – info website


Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic)

  • s. 3—defines ‘law enforcement agency’, ‘law enforcement function’, ‘interstate law’, ‘foreign law’, ‘infringement conviction’, ‘child’, ‘criminal record’, ‘serious conviction’, ‘serious violence offence’,
  • s. 5—what is a conviction?
  • s. 6—how past convictions are treated
  • s. 7—convictions spent with immediate effect
  • s. 8—convictions spent on expiry of conviction period
  • s. 9—conviction period
  • s. 10—commencement and recommencement of conviction period
  • s. 20—effect of a conviction becoming spent
  • s. 21—use of criminal record information by law enforcement agencies, courts and tribunals
  • s. 22—use of criminal record information by specified persons or bodies
  • s. 23—unlawful disclosure of conviction information
  • s. 24—obtaining spent conviction information by fraud or dishonesty

See Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

Back to index

Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 (Vic)

  • s. 15—purpose of special hearings
  • s. 16—procedure at special hearings
  • s. 17(1)(c)—where court finds at a special hearing that the person committed the offence charged (or other offence)
  • s. 38X(1)(c)—findings at special hearings in the Children’s Court that the child committed the offence charged (or other offence)

See Crimes Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 (Vic).

Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic)

  • Part 3, Division 2, Subdivision 4—youth justice centre orders and youth residential centre orders
    • s. 32—when court can sentence a young person to a youth justice centre order or youth residential centre order

See Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic).

Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic)

  • s. 4—meaning of sexual offence

SeeCriminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic)—s. 4—meaning of sexual offence.

Serious Offenders Act 2018 (Vic)

See Serious Offenders Act 2018 (Vic).

  • s. 6(pb)—lists ‘spent conviction’ as an attribute on the basis of which discrimination is prohibited
  • s. 7—defines discrimination

See Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)

References – Resources

Magistrates Court of Victoira – Applications for spent conviction

Department of Justice – Community Information

Department of Justice – Information for employers

Department of Justice – Flow Charts



Book a free 30 min consultation

Need to discuss a case? Get in touch for a free and confidential chat.