When people are accused of a crime, they worry about the punishment they might receive. Many first-time offenders are relieved when they receive a criminal conviction but no sentence, yet a conviction can be more of a punishment than a gaol sentence.
Consequences of criminal convictions
A criminal conviction can have a negative impact on your life making it difficult to:
· Find employment post-conviction
· Be approved for rental housing
· Hold public office
· Travel overseas (disclosure laws vary country to country)
· Obtain financing or insurance
· Obtain professional licences or registrations
· Adopt a child
Damaging reputations and being denied jobs
For most, one of the worst aspects of receiving a conviction is that it damages your reputation when people learn about the conviction. From potential employers to landlords to banking agents when you disclose your criminal offence you may be denied services or opportunities.
Many employers request a criminal check prior to hiring applicants. Currently if you have a conviction, no matter how old, it is listed on your criminal record. Employers may opt not to hire you if you have been convicted, or worse fire you after learning you have a conviction even if you are performing satisfactorily. Sadly, in Victoria there is no law that prohibits criminal record discrimination. Some employers are prohibited from hiring employees who have specific kinds of convictions however most employers are free to hire employees who have a criminal record.
Getting a criminal record cleared or ‘spent’
In February 2020, the state government committed to introducing a spent convictions scheme which means Victorians who have a criminal history will be able to have the crimes removed if they meet certain perimeters.
“Historical criminal records can have a lasting, damaging effect on an individual, limiting their ability to gain employment, secure housing or undertake volunteer work,” the government statement read.
“An individual’s historical criminal record for eligible offences will no longer show up in a police check after a set period of time, if they do not reoffend. Certain convictions, such as for serious sexual or violent offending, will not be eligible under the scheme to become spent.
“In the interests of public safety, police and courts will continue to have full access to criminal history information. In addition, complete criminal records will still be released for the purposes of enabling certain employers and third parties to make well-informed risk assessments. This includes licensing for trusted professions, checks for working with children, and employment in sensitive government roles.”
Victoria is currently the only state that does not have a legislated spent convictions scheme.
Retaining a good criminal lawyer
Criminal lawyers in Melbourne and Geelong work to avoid convictions whenever possible as avoiding a conviction is much better than living with the negative consequences that accompany it for years. Convictions cannot always be avoided, but a good criminal lawyer such as Gallant Law, will examine all options and advise the accused of the best strategy for dealing with charges in order to minimise their consequences.
Contact the team at Gallant Law today for your free consultation to discuss your issues. With over 80 years’ of combined experience in criminal law, Gallant Law approaches our clients’ legal proceedings with compassion and warmth. Book online or call at 03 9070 9885 (or after hours at 0412 513 915) to experience criminal law done differently.