You’ve been convicted of a criminal offence, and now have a criminal record. But what does this mean for you and your future? The potential effects of a criminal conviction do not stop once your case has been settled. Having a criminal record can have many negative consequences that extend into the future and after your criminal matter has concluded.

Once you gain a criminal conviction this will be documented on the police database (LEAP). Depending on the nature of the conviction, it could remain on your record for life.  In Victoria, under the Spent Convictions Scheme, some criminal records will automatically expire after ten years from the time of sentencing if you were 18 or older and it was not a serious conviction. However, in the meantime, your life may be impacted in a variety of ways ranging from obtaining employment or rental accommodation to attending your child’s school events. 

The Impact of Having a Criminal Record on Employment

Securing meaningful employment is one of the most common challenges people face following a criminal conviction. When applying for a new job many employers will request that you to consent to a police check to uncover any criminal convictions or findings of guilt. As it stands, there are no Victorian laws to prevent employers discriminating against you due to a current criminal record where it is relevant to the job that you would be performing. Having a criminal record may make you a less competitive candidate for a job, even one that you are highly qualified for, against another candidate without a criminal record.

For some employers, a police check is a mandatory employment requirement. This will generally be evident in jobs that require you to work with children and/or vulnerable people, or jobs that require a level of security clearance (such as working in hospitals, government buildings and prisons). A criminal will likely impact your ability to obtain employment in these roles, including teachers, health care workers or public sector employees. For example, a construction employee working on a government contract at a prison will be subject to criminal record checks. Failing a security clearance by virtue of a criminal record can mean that your job security will be impacted. Similarly, if you fail to notify your employer of a conviction this may be grounds for termination as many employment contracts include a disclosure clause. Recruitment agencies and labour hire companies can refuse to hire and represent you if you have a criminal record, depending on the nature of the work.

Some criminal convictions, such as sexual offences or offences for violence, can prevent you from being able to receive a Working With Children’s Check (WWCC), even if your offending did not involve children. Whilst not all jobs may require you to obtain a WWCC, you may encounter problems if you wish to participate in extra-curricular activities with your children. For example, you may be unable to supervise your child’s school excursion, volunteer at their sporting clubs or assist at their school or childcare. Additionally, your opportunity to engage in volunteer work is drastically reduced. This can be important if you are trying to get volunteer experience to assist with your studies, obtain work experience or expand your skill set through volunteer work.

The Impact of Having a Criminal Record on Housing

If looking to maintain your current rental accommodation or seeking new rental housing, it is important to keep in mind how a criminal record may affect this. Much like an employer, a landlord may request a criminal record check. They can legally deny your rental application where you have a criminal conviction. With current rental vacancy rates low, having a criminal record can be a determinative factor when a landlord is considering many applications.

Alternatively, if you are looking to purchase a property, your ability to secure a mortgage will be impacted. A mortgage application will require you to reveal your criminal background. Having a criminal record, particularly if convicted of dishonesty offences, will increase the likelihood of your application being denied. Similarly, your criminal offending can impact upon your ability to rent or purchase business premises, have credit facilities made available to you and even lease equipment.

The Impact of Having a Criminal Record on Travel

Overseas travel will also become more challenging. Visa applications may require you to inform them of any criminal record. Countries such as the United States of America and United Kingdom will require you to apply for a visa declaring your criminal record. Depending on the severity of the offences some countries may even deny entry based on criminal convictions. As such, requiring you to contact the relevant embassy to ascertain whether you can travel. Some countries, such as the United States, have strict entry criteria when it comes to tourists entering the country with criminal records.

The Impact of Having a Criminal Record on Insurance

Depending on the criminal conviction, some insurance companies may also deem it too risky to insure. A series of driving convictions can lead to a car insurer refusing to insure you or agreeing to insure you but at more expensive premiums and with larger excesses. If you have a history of fraud, you may not be able to get business insurance, income protection or life insurance. Home and contents insurance will always be more difficult to obtain if you have offences which involve property damage and will be more expensive for you than for those without a criminal record. With cost of living increasing, this is not an added expense you want.

Other areas that generally require criminal record checks include applying for occupational licences and registration, adopting a child and obtaining finance.

 How Galbally Parker Lawyers Can Help

Having a criminal record can have significant impacts on the functioning of your everyday life. You do not want to be in a position where you are unable to secure employment, housing or even travel merely because you are unaware of all your options after facing a criminal charge. Therefore, it is important to get the best possible legal advice from a criminal defence solicitor at Galbally Parker Criminal Lawyers, so that you are aware of all of your options and who can help to minimize the risk of receiving a life altering criminal record.