A lot of people mistakenly believe that criminal convictions are only given for serious criminal offences such as assault and murder, not realising that you can have a conviction entered against you for an offence such as negligent driving or possessing a tiny amount of drugs.
Then, once you have a criminal conviction, you need to declare it in many future instances in your life, such as, for example, applying for a job, or travelling overseas. Failing to do so can be seen as a reflection of a ‘dishonest’ character.
If you are applying for a job with the government, or in the health, legal or childcare sectors, a police check will most likely be required, irrespective of the role.
If you do have a conviction, a good idea to find out if a criminal check will be done (these are becoming increasingly common in all businesses and organisations) and if so, to disclose any conviction to your prospective employer as soon as possible, up front.
If you want to travel, many countries require you to disclose your conviction on arrival at customs before you are allowed to enter. In some cases, you will need to disclose it prior to that, in order to obtain a visa for holiday, work, or relocation purposes and it can affect your chances of being allowed entry.
If you have a criminal record and you are charged with subsequent offences, your previous conviction record will be considered by the court. Not only is it unlikely that you would be able to seek a non-conviction order more than once, if the subsequent offences are similar in nature to the already convicted offence, it can potentially result in a more serious penalty.
To own a gun in Australia, you must have a gun licence. So, if at any time you want to obtain a gun licence, your conviction will be considered. Depending on the timing and the seriousness of the conviction your licence application may be denied.
Impact on adoption and child custody
Having a criminal record can also affect your chances of adopting children, fostering children, and in some cases, depending on the nature of the offence, affect a parent’s ability to gain custody of children in family disputes.
Can a criminal conviction be avoided?
Yes, it is possible to avoid a conviction in some circumstances. This can be done by seeking a section 10 dismissal or a conditional release order, which allows you to plead guilty to a criminal offence but still avoid a criminal conviction. To have the best chance at the court considering these options, it’s best to have a criminal lawyer to represent you in the local court.
A non-conviction order may come with a good behaviour bond for up to two years, and courts have the power not to record a conviction if the offence is considered to be relatively minor.
Non-conviction orders can be awarded in a variety of cases, however being successful in obtaining a non-conviction order will also depend on a number of additional factors such as whether you have a prior record, if it is a first offence, you are of good character, and you are considered to be unlikely to commit the offence again.
Other Orders, for a convicted offender, in Community Corrections Orders (“CCO”) and Intensive Corrections Orders (“ICO”). These orders generally have additional conditions attached, such as, by way of a few examples only, community service work, home detention, attend rehab or counselling, obey the reasonable directions of your caseworker at Community Corrections.
ICO’s are an alternative to full-time custody and are considered very serious.
This post is informative only. It is not legal advice. If you have a specific legal matter you’d like to discuss, please contact us.