Criminal records

Criminal records

There are two kinds of criminal records:

  • a certificate issued by VicRoads listing your driving record
  • information kept on the police Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP) database.

Criminal driving records

Your driving record will include:

  • driving offences where you were found guilty by a court
  • fines for drink or drug driving
  • fines for speeding where you lost your licence
  • traffic camera offences
  • the number of demerit points added to your licence.

You can get a copy of your driving history from VicRoads.

Criminal records held by police

Police keep records on their LEAP database of all of your involvement with the criminal justice system in Victoria.

This police database records information for every court where charges for criminal offences are heard. This means your criminal record will include the results of cases in the Magistrates’, Children’s, County and Supreme courts.

Even if you were found not guilty, your appearance in court and the outcome of the court case will be recorded on this database.

If you were charged with an offence but the matter went ahead as a diversion, this will be recorded too.

Although quite detailed information is kept on the LEAP database, police will not release this information if:

Criminal records from interstate

Interstate police have similar databases of criminal histories. Victoria Police can check these records.

Prior convictions

If you are found guilty of an offence, the police prosecutor can use information from the LEAP database to tell the court about your history. The magistrate will also see your VicRoads criminal driving record.

All of your prior convictions will be listed for the court to see, no matter how long ago the offence happened, unless you were under 18 years old when you were sentenced and it was more than 10 years ago.

There are some driving offences that the police cannot tell the magistrate about. This applies where the offence is more than 10 years old and you are being sentenced for another offence of the same sort.

The magistrate will use these records when they are deciding what penalty to give you.

Infringement convictions

Some driving infringements (fines) are recorded in your criminal record if you were convicted for the offence. These are called infringement convictions. Infringement convictions include drink or drug driving and driving at excessive speed. These do not show up in the list of prior convictions that police use in court unless you are convicted of a similar driving offence.

What is in a criminal record held by police?

The criminal record goes into detail. It includes:

  • what the offence was
  • the court you were at
  • the date you went to court
  • that you were found guilty
  • the conviction, if there was one
  • the sentence including penalties.

The offences can range from summary offences to indictable offences.

Who else can see my criminal record?

Sometimes Victoria Police can let other people or organisations know what is in your criminal record, but only if you agree. For example, an employer or an embassy may want to know what is in your criminal record.

Police generally do not release this information to employers unless:

  • you got a conviction
  • you got a jail sentence (or suspended sentence)
  • you were found guilty of the offence less than ten years ago.

This depends on the job you are applying for and how old you were at the time of your offence.

What might an employer want to know?

An increasing number of employers want to do criminal records checks on potential employees before they will consider employing the person. A potential employer may want to know if you have:

  • a criminal record
  • any findings of guilt
  • any convictions
  • ever spent time in prison.

A criminal records check will only give this information if the court case has finished. However the check may also show matters that the police are still investigating or the court has not yet heard.

The employer may use information from your criminal record to judge your character and your suitability for doing the job or representing the organisation.

Is the employer allowed to ask me for this information?

There are no laws that can stop an employer from asking you for this information. You can refuse to let the employer do the check but then this would probably mean that you do not get interviewed or considered for the job.

Once you have agreed, the employer can ask Victoria Police for criminal records information. Victoria Police will only do a criminal record check if you agree in writing.

Some employers cannot employ people with certain criminal records. For example, employers that work with children or vulnerable people cannot employ people with convictions for crimes involving children.

Is it fair to be asked?

There are no laws in Victoria against employers who discriminate against someone because of a criminal record. However, the Australian Human Rights Commission may be able to help with complaints.

What might an embassy want to know?

You may want to travel overseas and need a visa. You will need to get this visa approved from the relevant embassy.

Before approving the visa, the embassy may want to know if you have:

  • a criminal record
  • any findings of guilt
  • conviction
  • ever spent time in prison.

Some countries have laws that stop people with convictions or findings of guilt from entering their country.

If you are planning a trip and you have a criminal record, contact the embassy of that country before you apply for a visa.

How far back do criminal record checks go?

In Victoria a criminal record is available for:

  • ten years from the time of sentencing as long as you were 18 years and over when you were sentenced
  • five years from the time of sentencing if you were under 18 years at the time of sentencing.

Offences more than ten years old

Sometimes a criminal record that is more than ten years old may be released if:

  • the criminal record has an offence that resulted in a custodial sentence longer than 30 months
  • the criminal record includes a serious offence of violence or a sex offence and the criminal records check is for a job or voluntary work with children or vulnerable people
  • the criminal record includes serious offences where the result was ‘acquitted by reason of insanity or mental impairment’ or ‘not guilty by reason of insanity or mental impairment’
  • the purpose of the criminal record check is for:
    • registration with a child-screening unit and/or the Victorian Institute of Teaching
    • assisted reproductive treatment
    • registration and accreditation of health professionals
    • employment in prisons or state or territory police forces
    • a casino or gaming licence
    • a sex work licence
    • a bus driver licence
    • a security guard licence
    • a Victorian taxi driver licence
    • a firearms licence.