What is a Conviction & How Can I Prevent it From Being Recorded?

Criminal Lawyers Brisbane

Everyone knows that if you are found guilty of a crime, you’re convicted of the offence. Convictions, unsurprisingly, have serious ramifications and can potentially follow you for the rest of your life, regardless of your court imposed punishment. If a conviction is recorded it can affect you when applying for jobs and prevent you from travelling. Not all convictions, however, need be recorded. Below, we discuss non-recorded convictions and what that may mean for you.

Penalties and Sentences Act 1992

The Court is granted the discretion to not record a conviction by Section 12 of the Penalties and Sentences Act of 1992, even when the person in question has been found guilty and sentenced by the Court. When exercising this discretion, the Court will look at a variety of factors in determining whether or not the individual circumstances warrant leniency.

Factors that Influence Discretion

Nature of Offence: The type of crime for which you’ve been found guilty will play a role in the discretion of the Court, with minor offences more likely to be non-recorded than major offences.

Age & Character: The offender’s age and character will be taken into account. Because the goal of the criminal justice system generally revolves around fairness and rehabilitation, young offenders and those with no prior history with the criminal justice system are more likely to receive leniency, as they are more likely to resume behavior as law-abiding, productive members of society. This isn’t to say that older offenders will always have their conviction recorded, especially if they have a clean or minor record. It is important to remember that anyone with a clean or minor record has the right to request that their conviction not be recorded, even if they are not excused by youthful indiscretion.

Impact: When determining whether or not to record a conviction, the Court will also look at the potential consequences that a criminal record will have on the offender. In particular, they estimate the impact on the offender’s economic security, social wellbeing, and ability to find appropriate employment. However, it is important to note that merely asserting that a recorded conviction will increase the difficulty of finding a job may not be enough to inspire the Court to exercise leniency. The Court would rather deal in specifics so a letter from an employer or a list of criteria from the offender’s chosen career would be necessary to support this argument.


If you are not able to prevent your conviction from being recorded, you will be required to disclose this conviction in many circumstances, most notably when you are applying for jobs or travelling out of the country for work. There are other times, though, when you are not required to disclose.

Magistrates Court: If your conviction was in the Magistrates Court, you will no longer be required to disclose this conviction when: the conviction was at least five years ago; the term of imprisonment was only 30 months or less (or there was no term of imprisonment); you have completed any other court order; you have not committed any other offence within the five-year period; and no exceptions apply. If you meet all of these requirements, you will not be required to disclose and it will likely be unlawful for any other person to disclose it as well.

District or Supreme Court: Unlike a conviction in Magistrates Court, a conviction in a District or Supreme Court has a much longer lapse period. In order for your conviction to be spent so that you no longer have to disclose it: 10 years must have passed and you were not convicted during that time; you served a term of imprisonment 30 months or less (or were not assigned a term of imprisonment); no exceptions apply; and you have complied with and completed any other order of the court.

Preventing your conviction from being recorded can be imperative if you are hoping to keep your professional and personal life on track. Contact our Criminal Lawyers Brisbane today so that you have a professionally trained advocate to argue on your behalf.