Having a criminal record can negatively affect many aspects of a person’s life, including their ability to obtain finance. Financial lenders, and most particularly banks, have received significant negative attention through the media. The Financial Service Royal Commission highlighted the previous risky lending practices. Since the Royal Commission, lenders have largely been forced to engage in better lending practices. Best practice involves ensuring as much as possible that a mortgagee can repay the debt, even with an increase in interest rates, and are a responsible person to enter into a financial agreement with the bank. When applying for a mortgage, individuals are required to disclose whether they have any criminal history in their applications for finance, including when applying for mortgages.

Criminal Matters That May Affect A Mortgage Application

Some prior criminal matters will be less relevant to a mortgage application than others. For example, if you have a criminal prior for driving whilst exceeding the prescribed concentration of alcohol (drink driving) or an assault, this will be less relevant to a lender’s decision as to whether to lend to you. However, if you have a prior criminal history for dishonesty offences, lenders will be far more hesitant (and may even refuse) to lend money to you. If they are considering lending to you, they may investigate your credentials and application very carefully to ensure that everything in your application can be verified, are true and correct.

How Dishonesty Offences May Affect A Mortgage Application

Dishonesty offences include theft, fraud, obtaining a financial advantage or property by deception and using a false document to obtain a benefit. Whilst a prior criminal record for dishonesty offending can be devastating to a person’s prospects of obtaining a loan or finance in the future, the lender may also want to know the circumstances of the past offending, including when the offending occurred.

For example, if you were found guilty of theft when you were 19 years old, in circumstances where you stole a bike from the front of a shop, this will be far less relevant than if you were convicted of a complex fraud in your twenties or thirties. Lenders are most concerned to make sure that all of the information that you are providing them is correct (ie, that they aren’t being duped into lending money to a person who has included false information in their application).

If you have a prior criminal history for serious dishonesty offending and you are applying for finance,  you may have a more narrow choice of lenders and may be subject to more onerous conditions. It is essential that, if you are charged with a dishonesty offence and you are considering your options, you think very carefully about all of the potential ramifications of a criminal finding. Most particularly, how the finding may affect future finance. If you already have a prior criminal history for dishonesty offending, you will want to ensure that you have all of the documentation relevant to this history. For example, your National Police Check, any Summaries of the Offending or Crown Openings summarising the offending and any Sentencing Remarks that were made by the Judge or Magistrate when sentencing you. All of these documents will be relevant to a lender’s assessment of your application.

Disclosing Your Criminal History

If you have a criminal history for dishonesty offending, it may be tempting not to disclose the history when making an application for finance. It may be particularly tempting when you are applying for finance online and at arms’ length from the actual lender or their representative. The introduction of the Spent Conviction Scheme has been a fantastic initiative that disposes of ‘spent’ convictions from individuals’ criminal histories so that they do not arise on a National Police Check. However, even if your conviction for a dishonesty offence has been spent, it does not remove the requirement to disclose the previous conviction or finding of guilt if requested in an application for finance.

Making a false document, for the purpose of applying for finance, is an offence in and of itself. It is considered a serious offence, even if no money was stolen and any repayments are up to date. Courts and lenders view making a false document particularly seriously because it calls into question the honour and trust system implemented by many banks and lenders. Banks and lenders cannot verify and double check every aspect of every finance application it receives, so they rely on applicants being honest about their criminal history when making applications.

When individuals make a false document or mislead a lender, the punishments can be severe in order to deter the individual and the community at large from engaging in this conduct.  Dishonesty offending is dealt with seriously by the Courts, even if there has been no actual financial loss to the lender.

How Galbally Parker Criminal Defence Lawyers Can Assist

If you are facing dishonesty charges, it is essential that you get advice from an experienced Criminal Defence Lawyer about the charges, evidence and also the potential future ramifications of having dishonesty offences recorded on your criminal history. Galbally Parker has a team of Melbourne Defence Lawyers specialising in theft, fraud and dishonesty. Contact us today.