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Convictions that become spent once the ‘conviction period’ has passed

Information on 'conviction periods' and convictions that become spent when the conviction period is passed.

A conviction will be spent automatically provided the person does not re-offend or is convicted within the ‘conviction period’. If they do, their time starts over again.

Note: serious convictions cannot be automatically spent

How long is the conviction period?

The conviction period is the amount of time needed to pass before a conviction is spent. This is calculated from the date that the court finds the person guilty of the offence that constitutes the conviction.

The conviction period is:

  • 5 years where the offence was committed by a child or young offender
  • 10 years where the offence was committed by any other person

See s. 9—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

What are serious convictions?

Serious convictions, those which are not spent automatically after the offender has served the conviction period, are convictions:

  • where a custodial term of more than 30 months is imposed
  • for a sexual offence, or
  • for a serious violence offence.

See Convictions that cannot become spent – serious violence offences, sexual offences and offences where custodial term is 5 years or more.

Who is considered to be a child or young offender?

  • a child is a person who was under the age of 18 years at the time of the commission of the offence
  • a young offender is a person who is under the age of 21 years at the time of sentencing.

A person will be considered to be a child if they were convicted under the Children Youth and Families Act 2005 or an equivalent Act (including similar interstate or overseas laws).

It also includes young offenders who are sentenced under the dual track system under the Sentencing Act 1991. This allows Victorian courts to sentence young adults under 21 to serve sentences in youth detention instead of adult prison. To qualify for this dual track system, the court must be convinced that the young offender has reasonable prospects of rehabilitation, or is particularly impressionable, immature or likely to be subjected to undesirable influences in an adult prison.

Note: A young offender must be no older than 20 at the time of the offence.

See s. 9—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic) and s. 32—Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic).

What happens if a person offends during the conviction period?

Note: The conviction period starts from the date of conviction, not the date the person is charged. The Spent Convictions Act does not expressly state that the further offence must have been committed during the conviction period. See example below.

If the person reoffends before their conviction period is up (that is, they are convicted of another offence before the conviction period ends) the conviction period for the first conviction starts again. It starts from the date that the subsequent conviction is made.

For example, if an adult person is found guilty of an offence on 23 June 2018, their conviction would be due to end on 23 June 2028. If, however the person is convicted of another offence on 1 April 2021, their conviction period would not be due to end until 1 April 2031, provided they are not convicted of another offence during that time.

See s. 10—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

Example: A is an adult.

  • A is charged with offence (1) on 15 Jan 2020
  • A is then charged with offence (2) on 20 Jan 2020

A is sentenced for offence (2) on 10 Feb 2021 which means A's conviction will be automatically spent on 10 Feb 2031. But.....

A then decides not to contest offence (1) and plea date is set with the Court. A is 'convicted' on 1 March 2022, A's conviction period now starts again and will end on 1 March 2032.

When the conviction period will not restart

The conviction period will not be restarted if the subsequent conviction is:

  • a fine of less than 10 penalty units (or equivalent outside Victoria)
  • only penalty is to pay an amount of compensation or restitution
  • without penalty, or
  • no conviction is recorded by the court.

See s. 10(3)—Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic).

Return to the main page on spent convictions

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