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There are many cases where people have been charged with an offence. This can be a very stressful process. Often in those cases many are not aware of the process and generally plead ‘guilty’, representing themselves, to save money and to make the issue “go away” as quick as possible. As a result, they may be convicted of the offence in Court which could have some serious repercussions on future employment and even travel.

The criminal record

There is a multitude of criminal offences in NSW, and it is very likely many of us has committed a crime at some point in our lives. These offences can take many forms and are sometimes minor, such as a parking or speeding ticket, or more serious such as drug offences and even rape and murder.

Not all offences are classified as ‘criminal’ and will lead to a criminal record.

Your criminal record includes a list of all serious traffic offences and other offences that you have been found guilty and convicted of in court.

Serious traffic offences include:

  • drink driving convictions;
  • dangerous or negligent driving convictions where someone is hurt; and/or
  • convictions for driving whilst disqualified, suspended or cancelled.

Minor offences, such as uttering offensive language in public, or entering a public fountain, are summary offences that can give you a criminal record.

In NSW, criminal and traffic records are separate

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Is a criminal record for life?

Offences will generally be on your record for the next ten years after the date of conviction.

After that time, most offences will become “spent convictions” and you will no longer have them on your criminal record. A conviction is spent on completion of the relevant crime-free period. The crime-free period for adults is ten consecutive years, while for children it is three consecutive years.

Some exemptions to this apply, such as murder and other serious offences, which will never be spent, or where you have received a sentence of imprisonment of more than 6 months.

Apart from the exception, you will be considered to have a ‘clean record’ after 10 years of not offending.


What is a section 10?

A person of generally good character can maintain a clean criminal record by being awarded a ‘section 10’.

Getting a section 10 will mean that there is no criminal conviction, no fine and, in driving cases, no loss of licence. Receiving a section 10 requires a solicitor to make concise and strong arguments by a trained solicitor in your specific case.

For more information on Section 10 visit our exclusive page by clicking here

How do I obtain a copy of my criminal record in NSW?

If you are a NSW resident you may apply via the NSW Police Force for a National Criminal History Record Check (NCHRC) for visa, adoption, specified occupational licensing purposes, and paid employment. You can do so by filling out the relevant application form, presenting it with proof of identity to a NSW Police Station or NSW Police Registered Organisation, and paying the appropriate fee visit National Crime Check.

Individuals seeking a criminal record check in relation to child-related employment are required to apply for a working with children check (WWCC). For more information visit Office of the Children’s Guardian page by clicking here


As a general rule, all convictions must be disclosed when requested.

The concern that employers have about employing a person with a criminal record, or someone who has been dishonest about their record, is also shown in their responses to Human Right Commission’s complaints. For example one employer noted:

On most occasions, the nature of the applicant’s criminal record is not relevant to the position for which they have applied. However, it needs to be recognised that trust is an essential element of any successful employer-employee relationship and it is expected that an applicant be honest and ‘up-front’.

Discrimination, according to law, generally occurs when a person is treated less favourably because of a particular characteristic. Anti-discrimination provisions regarding discrimination in employment on the basis of criminal record are found in international, Federal, and some State and Territory laws.

Effects on employment

NSW has decided that there are certain types of employment where people with a certain criminal record may not be employed.

There are also some professional and occupational licensing bodies that have developed licensing and registration rules because of special characteristics in their field, e.g. the health profession or legal profession. Such rules address the relevance of a person’s criminal record to that particular profession.

All jurisdictions in Australia have made a policy decision that the protection of children is so important that the criminal records of persons working with children should be closely scrutinised.

There are a number of professions and trades which seek to restrict the participation of people with a criminal record or, at the very least, examine a person’s criminal record prior to their admission, registration or licensing.

In other fields of employment there is little guidance for employers as to what the inherent requirements of a certain job might be, and how to assess whether a person meets those requirements. In general, these would need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Effects on travel

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United States of America Some Consider the US to be one of the strictest places to travel because they do not recognise “spent” convictions. Generally, Australian residents are exempt from having to apply for a visa to enter the USA. However, if you have a criminal record, you will need to apply for a visa and must appear for an interview to determine whether or not you are eligible for a visa. You will need to provide details of the conviction and punishment. Whether or not the visa will be issued will depend on the nature and severity of the offence and punishment.
United Kingdom You will need to apply for a visa. You will need to declare criminal convictions or traffic offences and provide details and documents of the convictions and punishment.
Canada Anyone with a criminal record, including a drink-driving conviction, may be excluded from Canada. A waiver of exclusion may be issued. If you were convicted of or committed a criminal offence outside Canada, you may overcome the inadmissibility of entering Canada by applying for rehabilitation. Alternatively, you may be deemed rehabilitated if a certain period of time has passed since the offence.
Fiji According to the High Commission of the Republic of Fiji: the requirement for clearance to travel include:

·         A duly completed Criminal Conviction Clearance Form,

·         Criminal conviction record from Ministry of Justice,

·         Statement of Good Behaviour from the Police, and

·         Flight itinerary (if already booked).



If you don’t tell them, how would they know you have a record?

The close relationship between the above countries, especially in the fight against terrorism, has resulted in the them having access the  National Repository of Criminal Records, which lists every criminal record holder. An officer only has to enter your name or scan your passport to find out whether you have a record.


If you have been charged with an offence, contact our trained solicitors to increase your chances of defending your charges or receiving a section 10 or simply just email us on [email protected] We can be contacted on our 24 hour line on 02 8678 0090 and have offices all around NSW, including Sydney CBD, Parramatta, Blacktown, Redfern and soon opening in Bankstown. 


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