The Effects of Having a Criminal Record in Australia

By National Criminal Lawyers


The consequences of being charged with a criminal offence can be severe  and we at NCL know that everybody makes mistakes.

Being charged with a criminal offence can often lead to a criminal conviction. What is ordinarily a “spare of the moment” thing can have devastating consequence. It is usually also 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 simply “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.


There are numerous  criminal offences in NSW, and it is very likely many of us have 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 also give you a criminal record.

In NSW, criminal and traffic records are separate and are reflected in separate documents.



Criminal offences will generally be on your record for the ten years after the date conviction was recorded.

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.



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


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.


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.


The table below summarises the restrictions that may apply to certain countries if you have been convicted of a criminal offence in Australia.

Country Restrictions
United States of America 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.



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



National Criminal Lawyers (NCL) is one of Sydney’s most sought after criminal law firms. This is because we get the results, give a senior criminal lawyer guarantee and we are the best defenders of your rights. We understand how the law works and how the authorities who enforce the law work.

NCL practices exclusively in Criminal Law and has employed some of the best criminal experts with over 25 years combined experience. NCL is a law firm founded by Michael Moussa (one of Sydney’s most fierce lawyers) and also made up of excellent senior advocates.

We know that oftentimes prosecutions are full of certain mistruths, or there are relevant things missing or worse still there are what are known as aggravating allegations made against you which go above and beyond what the truth and/or the crime is as alleged and charged. National Criminal Lawyers (NCL) is very unique as it is dedicated to ensuring you get the best result (whether it be on a plea of guilty or not guilty).

We offers four (4) unique options which can be individually tailored to suite your circumstances/needs. For example if you are charged with a criminal offence National Criminal Lawyers gives you the option to (1) Try and negotiate with prosecutors/police (plea negotiation), (2) Plead Not Guilty and go to hearing/trial, (3) Plead guilty to the elements of the charge and then dispute the facts (at a special “disputed facts” hearing) or (4) Plead guilty with full acceptance of the facts as set out by the police

We take pride and passion in representing our clients and always provide quality legal representation in the metropolitan area or throughout New South Wales. We have a policy of being highly accessible to our clients and have genuine commitment to each and every client.  These factors set us apart from other criminal firms.

At National Criminal one FREE consultation with one of our Senior Criminal Lawyers guaranteed can help you to understand the process, explore possible defences discuss proven legal strategies and understand what possible outcomes might be achieved.

Our expert criminal lawyers have extensive knowledge and appear in all Sydney metropolitan, NSW regional, and District and Supreme courts on a daily basis.

NCL have defended thousands of cases over decades including murder, manslaughter, serious assaults, firearms, drug and driving charges. We have built an exceptional reputation amongst clients, courts and prosecutors and are a formidable team who will work together, both professionally and ethically to get the best possible result for you. Our knowledgeable lawyers will fight to get the best result and defend your rights with fixed price costing.

There are Three (3) reasons to choose National Criminal Lawyers

  1. We get the results

We are the experts in either beating or having the charges withdrawn AND/OR obtaining the least restrictive penalty available. This is because no matter which option you choose you will be dealing with experienced staff who can make sure the evidence is not only obtained properly but also that your case is prepared and presented to the highest best practice standards possible. This is also done without breaking your pocket.


  1. We give a Senior Defence Lawyer guarantee

No matter which option you choose National Criminal Lawyers can guarantee that a Senior Defence Lawyer will represent you. This means that with our over 20 years of Combined criminal law experience you will get the best result possible.


  1. National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights


At NCL we know that Criminal Law is a matter of Human Rights. For this reason, we take pride and passion in representing our clients. This pride and passion to assist those charged with an alleged or actual breach of the criminal law is to us a matter of righteous necessity and in that sense, you can always rest assured that National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights. This true not only when the police have just simply got it wrong OR if they have got it right then we can speak with you and make sure you get you the best result available.


If you have been charged with an offence, contact our expert criminal lawyers to increase your chances of defending your charges or receiving a section 10 or simply just email us on We can be contacted on our 24 hour line on 02 9893 1889.



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