- Convictions spent immediately
- Convictions spent automatically
- Reoffending during the crime-free period
- Some convictions may be spent on application to the Magistrates’ Court
- Working out if your prison sentence is within the 30-month threshold
- How to know if your conviction is spent
- More information
On this page
Lots of different convictions can become spent. Working out if a conviction can be spent depends on a number of factors including:
- your age at the time of offending
- whether the court sentenced you ‘with’ or ‘without conviction’
- whether the conviction was for a serious violence or sexual offence
- if the court gave you a prison sentence – how long it was
- if the court ordered you to pay a fine – how much it was
- how long ago you were convicted
- what has happened since you were convicted, such as whether you have re-offended.
There are three ways a conviction can be spent:
- immediately – from the date you are convicted or, if any conditions are attached, once they are completed
- automatically – after you have completed a conviction period of 10 years (adults) or five years (children and young people)
- by application to the Magistrates’ Court – for serious convictions after you have completed the relevant conviction period.
Convictions spent immediately
Some convictions will be spent immediately. These are:
- if you were under the age of 15 when you committed the offence, regardless of the offence or the outcome
- if a court found you guilty of an offence but made the order ‘without conviction’
- if a court decided you were unfit to plead, but that you had committed the offence (a qualified finding of guilt)
- if the Children’s Court gave you a fine and no other penalty was imposed
- if you got an infringement (fine) for drink or drug driving, excessive speeding or drink driving while operating a boat.
Completing any conditions before your conviction is immediately spent
For convictions that can be immediately spent, if the court imposed a penalty with a condition attached, you need to complete this condition before your conviction is spent.
For example, before your conviction is spent:
- you must complete any period of good behaviour ordered by the court
- you must complete any community-based order or community corrections order, or any conditions made by the court relating to these orders
- you must complete any order for detention in a youth residential centre (if you are under 15 years old).
However, payment of a fine or the suspension or disqualification of your driver licence or learner permit will not affect when your conviction is spent.
Compensation or restitution orders – such as if a court has ordered you to make a payment to a victim in compensation for damage caused – will not ordinarily affect when your conviction is spent, unless they are explicitly identified as being conditions of an order.
Other than completing any relevant conditions, you do not need to do anything for these convictions to be spent. They will not show up on your police record check unless an exemption applies.
Nhung is 17 and appeared in the Children’s Court for a charge of shop-theft. The court found Nhung guilty and ordered her to pay a fine. Because the only penalty was a fine from the Children’s Court, Nhung’s conviction is immediately spent from the time the court found her guilty.
Daniel was caught drink-driving and has to pay a fine. Although it is recorded as a conviction in his criminal history after 28 days, it will not show up on his police record check when he applies for a job with the local café because it is spent immediately. Even so, the demerit points from the offence are still put on his licence.
Many years ago, Mary-Anne was found guilty of assault and resisting arrest when she was 14. Both these convictions will be spent immediately on 1 December 2021. Mary-Anne has no other convictions. When she applies for a tenancy, the real estate agent cannot ask Mary-Anne if she has any spent convictions or about their existence.
Naseem was charged with possession of 40g of cannabis when he was 23 years old. The Magistrate found him guilty and ordered an adjourned undertaking, meaning Naseem had to be of good behaviour for 12 months. It was his first offence, so the Magistrate made the order ‘without conviction’. Naseem does not reoffend again and so, on the date which the matter had been adjourned to, a Magistrate makes an order dismissing the charge because they were satisfied that Naseem has been of good behaviour. Naseem’s conviction becomes spent immediately from the time the Magistrate dismisses the charge because he has completed the condition to be of good behaviour.
Convictions spent automatically
Some convictions will be spent automatically if you have completed the relevant crime-free period. The ‘crime-free period’ refers to the length of time you may need to wait after you are convicted, before your conviction can be spent. It is also referred to as a ‘conviction period’.
If it applies, the conviction period is five years for children and young people (generally speaking), and 10 years for adults. It is important for two reasons:
- how long you have to wait before an eligible conviction can be automatically spent, or
- how long you have to wait before you can apply to the Magistrates’ Court for a serious conviction to be spent
The conviction period starts from the date you are found guilty by the court. It might restart if you reoffend during that time.
Because the law applies to any convictions before or after the Spent Convictions Act 2021 starts, for some historical convictions, the conviction period will have already been completed.
Children under 15 years
If you were under 15 years at the time of offending, you do not have to complete a conviction period.
Your conviction will be immediately spent, or, if conditions were attached to the penalty, from the date you complete any conditions attached to the penalty ordered by the court (such as completing a period of good behaviour).
Children and young people 15 years and over
If you were a child or young person under 21 years at the time you were sentenced, your crime-free period is five years from the date you are found guilty.
However, if the court made the finding ‘without conviction’, or made a qualified finding of guilt, or the only penalty was a Children’s Court fine, you do not have a crime-free period because your conviction will be immediately spent (once you complete any conditions, such as being of good behaviour).
If you were 21 years or older at the time of sentencing, unless your conviction is immediately spent (such as when the court makes the order ‘without conviction’) your crime-free period is 10 years.
Reoffending during the crime-free period
If you reoffend during the crime-free period, depending on the type of offending, it may re-start the crime-free period.
Getting another conviction which results in the following outcomes is considered minor and will not impact the crime-free period for your earlier conviction:
- no penalty is ordered
- the court finds you guilty but makes the order ‘without conviction’
- the only penalty is a fine of up to 10 penalty units, or
- the only penalty is an order to pay a victim compensation (such as for pain and suffering) or restitution (such as to restore stolen property).
In any other circumstances, if you get another conviction, then the conviction period starts again from the date of that later conviction.
Examples of ‘minor’ offending that will not restart the crime-free period
- A conviction where the only penalty is a fine of $500 – as of 1 July 2021, this is within the threshold 10 penalty units for minor offending, so the crime-free period is unaffected.
- The Magistrate finds you guilty of unlicensed driving, but in the circumstances, decides not to record a conviction.
- A Court finds you guilty of an offence but does not order a penalty, but separately makes an order for you to pay compensation to a victim.
Re-offending that will restart the conviction period:
- A conviction where the Judge orders you to pay a fine of $5000 – as of July 2022, this is more than 10 penalty units, so the conviction period will restart from the date of that later conviction.
- You are convicted of an offence and the court orders a term of imprisonment, even if you get ‘time served’.
Re-offending after you have completed the conviction period
Once your conviction is spent, it cannot be unspent. This means a spent conviction will be protected from disclosure on your police record check even if you commit another offence at some point in the future.
Some convictions may be spent on application to the Magistrates’ Court
Some more serious convictions can be spent by application to the Magistrates’ Court in limited circumstances. This includes convictions for:
- sexual offences
- serious violence offences
- other offences where the court sentenced you to prison or detention in a youth justice facility for more than 30 months.
You must have completed the relevant conviction period before making an application.
When Tyler was 16 he was convicted of armed robbery and the court ordered him to spend 3 months in a youth detention centre. Once he completes a five-year conviction period, his conviction will be spent automatically.
Skye was 30 when she received a conviction for shop theft. Because of her circumstances, the court did not send her to prison, but ordered her to pay a fine and undergo counselling. This finding was made ‘with conviction’. Skye is now 41 and has not reoffended for 10 years, so her conviction is now automatically spent.
Working out if your prison sentence is within the 30-month threshold
If you are sentenced to prison for multiple charges at the same court hearing, you need to refer to the court outcome for each individual charge or offence to work out if the conviction is spent. This is different from your total effective sentence for more than one offence.
For example, even if your total effective sentence is more than 30 months in prison, if any of the individual offences had a sentencing outcome of 30 months or less, they will be spent automatically after completion of the relevant conviction period.
In the same way, an order by the court to serve your prison sentence concurrently (at the same time) or cumulatively (one after the other) will not affect whether your conviction for each offence is able to be spent automatically.
If the court ordered imprisonment, the threshold is based on the length of the sentence ordered by a court for each individual charge.
For a conviction to be automatically spent, the maximum prison sentence or detention in a youth justice facility is 30 months.
The following things do not affect the 30-month threshold:
- if you got a suspended sentence
- you got time served
- the amount of time you actually spent in prison
- the non-parole period.
How to know if your conviction is spent
If your conviction is spent immediately or automatically after a conviction period, police will not notify you that it is spent.
You can contact a lawyer for advice about which of your convictions are spent or might be able to be spent.
You also have the right to request a copy of your Victorian criminal history records held by Victoria Police under Freedom of Information. This is sometimes called a ‘personal use check’, and will show all your Victorian convictions, including any that are spent. Your spent convictions will not necessarily be marked as spent on the document you receive.
You can find more information on the Victoria Police website (External link)
If your conviction is spent by way of a Spent Conviction order, the Magistrates’ Court will send you a copy of the order it makes.
The information is a general guide only and you should seek legal advice about how the law applies to your circumstances. You can contact a lawyer through Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (External link), a community legal centre or a private law firm for more information about making an application.
A range of more detailed factsheets for community members are available:
Applying for a spent conviction order for serious convictions
Exemptions for when a conviction can be disclosed
Employment, housing and licences
Working and volunteering with vulnerable people
Different types of convictions
If your spent conviction has been disclosed unlawfully