Should we have Spent Convictions in NSW?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Silly mistakes can have a sneaky habit of catching up with us.

We’ve all done things we regret and may have even had a run in with the law.

If you’ve got a criminal record, you may still be feeling its implications years down the track.

Surely, you think, how can I still be paying for that stuff-up all those years ago?

You’ve paid your penalty to society and now you just want to get on with your life.

Unfortunately, criminal convictions can hang around a lot longer than you might think.

That time you drank-drove seven years, when you were 18?

Or that time you tried an ecstacy pill.

Of course they were bad decisions and you regret them, but should they really stop you from getting a job or going overseas?

UK driver Jeremy Mann realised only too well the long-lasting impacts that a criminal record can have.

Not only did he lose his licence for 16 months, his home, his job and company car, but he was also stuck with a criminal record.

He woke up in a prison cell after drink driving after celebrating his 35th birthday.

Mann says it is a birthday he will now never forget.

Similarly, New Zealand streaker Wati Holmwood certainly didn’t think through the potential criminal consequences when he crossed the Queensland rugby field in wearing nothing but sneakers. It was just a joke right?

Holmwood got three months in jail for it, not to mention a criminal record.

To be fair, this was not his first nude appearance at a sporting event and he had already breached two good behaviour bond breaches.

Nevertheless, he cried when he was sentenced, and although three months in jail will pass after three months, his criminal record won’t.

But not all criminal convictions hang around forever.

Spent convictions in NSW mean that after 10 years you will no longer have a criminal record for certain offences.

And once they are ‘spent’, they are gone for good unless you want to apply for particular jobs including magistrates, judges or teachers.

In fact, according to the NSW Criminal Records Act 1991 they cannot be ‘revived’ by a later conviction.

But if you offend again during the time while you still have a criminal record, the 10-year time frame will begin again from the date of the later conviction.

And while you will not have to disclose to anyone that you had a criminal record, it WILL appear on court records if you come before the magistrate again.

Of course, on the other hand, some may argue that criminals should not be given a chance to hide their past.

And the law recognises this – there are some crimes that spent convictions in NSW will never apply to.

These are:

  • Where you get more than six months in prison; or
  • Sexual offences, including indecent exposure; or
  • Offences by companies including bodies corporate; or
  • Some other offences prescribed by the legislative regulations

Those offences come with convictions that are for life.

This means that serious offences like sexual assault and murder will always be on your record.

What about juvenile offenders?

Any offences committed by juveniles are kept on record for three years, but when they are adults their criminal record as a child is not admissible in court.

What do you think, are the laws about spent convictions in NSW fair?

Author Image

About Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Specialist Criminal Lawyer and Principal at Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Sydney’s Leading Firm of Criminal & Traffic Defence Lawyers.


  1. Angela Bugeja

    I have a spent conviction dated back in 2007 and been applying for other jobs in previous occupation, but I still feel what happen in 2007, it still sub press me when apply for these job . What should I do to wipe these spent conviction out of my life

Leave a Comment