Spent Convictions and your Police Clearance Certificate

Jul 28, 2022

Do you know what spent convictions are or why they might appear on a Police Clearance Certificate?

A distraught person saw me a while back about a National Police Clearance Certificate she had requested from the Police. She required this for a new job she had been successful in gaining.

Unfortunately, over 35 years ago as a teenager, she had been convicted of shoplifting. When she received the Certificate, she was astonished and distraught that this old “spent” conviction appeared on it. Her new job had just gone up in smoke!

Unless you consent to it, the Spent Convictions Act prohibits the police from including spent convictions on the Police Clearance Certificate. Spent convictions are offences committed more than 10 years ago, or 5 years if you were a juvenile at the time of the offence. However, the Police can still include them if you intend to work in an ‘exempt occupation’.

The Police said she had indicated on her application form that she consented to spent convictions being included, however there was no option on the form for her to say she did not consent.

If you don’t want spent convictions shown on your Certificate, make sure you hand write on your application that you do not consent to “spent” convictions being included.

Secondly, they said she declared she was intending to work with ‘the aged’, which is an exempt occupation.

So, if you are being employed in an exempt occupation (see below) remember, they can include spent convictions, even if you don’t consent, but you can apply to a Court to compel the police to remove it from your Certificate.

We made an application to the Court for this client – the Court ordered that she get a perfectly clear Police Clearance Certificate!


There are some circumstances where a spent record that is over ten years old will be released, these are:

If the record check is for the purpose of:

  • Registration with a child-screening unit and/or Teaching institutions
  • Assisted Reproductive Treatment (Act 2008)
  • Registration and accreditation of health professionals
  • Employment or contact with prisons or state or territory police forces
  • Casino or Gaming Licence
  • Prostitution Service Provider’s Licence (Prostitution Control Act 1994)
  • Operator Accreditation under the Bus Safety Act (2009)
  • Private Security Licence (Private Security Amendment Act 2010)
  • Taxi Services Commission (Transport, Compliance & Miscellaneous Act 1983 & Road Safety Act 1986)
  • Firearms Licence (Firearms Act 1996)
  • Admission to legal profession (Legal Profession Act 2004)
  • Building and Plumbing practitioner (The Building Act 1993)
  • Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC)
  • Poppy Industry (Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substance Act 1981)
  • Honorary Justice (The Honorary Justices Act 2014)
  • Marriage Celebrants Registration
  • Court Services
  • 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 or vulnerable people
  • In circumstances where the release of information is considered to be in the interests of security, crime prevention or the administration of justice and/or otherwise necessary for the proper, legal or statutory assessment of an applicant
  • Some state Police will release traffic offences where the court outcome was a sentence of imprisonment or detention
  • Serious Offences where the result was ‘Acquitted by reason of insanity/mental impairment’ or ‘Not guilty by reason of insanity/mental impairment’.

This list is intended as a guide only – please ensure you check the Police website for full details of exempt occupations for the state you reside in.

Some states do have legislation in place to have criminal history spent or rehabilitated so it is not released for employment purposes. Please check the Police website in your state.


CAUTION: This article contains general information of public interest only and is not intended to be, nor should be relied upon as, legal advice specific to the reader’s personal circumstances. Should you have a legal matter, please seek professional advice before acting or relying on this content.