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Getting a second chance if convicted – spent convictions.

Consequences of a criminal conviction

The greatest concern of clients pleading guilty to an offence is the effect this will have on their employment. Currently in Victoria any sentences given with or without conviction will appear on police checks, providing a life sentence to people who have made bad decisions in the past that were a one-off instance.

Currently the only way to avoid this is to be accepted on the Diversion Program or to have the charges fully withdrawn.

Spent convictions bill

The Victorian Parliament is currently considering the Spent Convictions Bill 2020 which has so far passed the lower house. If the Bill becomes law it will mean that:

  • Convictions will be spent after 10 years (meaning they won't appear on police checks);
  • Sentences given "without conviction" will be immediately spent;
  • It will be unlawful to discriminate against a person who has had a spent conviction.

This news is a significant reform and will arm MyDefence lawyers with a further strategy to assist their clients in avoiding convictions by crafting pleas of guilty to be designed to offer the best chance of being sentence without conviction.

This will also mean that clients do not have to go to the expense and risk of taking their matter to a Contested Hearing if a sentencing indication from a magistrate indicates a sentence without conviction.

To read the proposed legislation click here.

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