More than 750,000 people were identified as adult criminal offenders by the Queensland Magistrates Courts between 2005-2017 according to the state Sentencing Advisory Council. This startling figure is higher than the Gold Coast's resident population (city council figures), yet doesn't even account for the individuals ultimately not charged with an actual criminal conviction by the Court.
Some minor offences carry a 'no conviction' sentence even if the person charged pleads guilty or is found guilty by the Magistrates Court. This usually means an individual doesn't have to disclose this part of their criminal record to other parties. However, there are exceptions to the rule, which is why following legal advice from a criminal lawyer on when a conviction may or may not be recorded in Queensland is crucial.
Why would the Court decide to record a no conviction?
Section 12 of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) allows the Court the discretion to not record a conviction if the individual is found guilty and sentenced for a criminal offence. This is based on the circumstances of the alleged crime and the background of the offender, including:
- The severity of the offence. If the incident is considered minor compared to more serious criminal behaviour, the offender may avoid a criminal conviction.
- The person's criminal history. Depending on the charge, habitual offenders will be more likely to have a conviction recorded against their name compared to first-time offenders.
- The individual's socio-economic wellbeing. If the Court is convinced the person will be disproportionately affected by a marked criminal history, especially when seeking permanent employment, no conviction may be recorded.
Each case will be treated with consideration to every contributing factor – that is why it's essential to engage a lawyer to assist in reducing the chances of an incident blemishing your criminal record.
Will any conviction sentence affect my criminal record?
Regardless of whether the Court records a criminal conviction upon you, the offence will still be recorded on your history. However, you do not necessarily have to share this information with other parties as you would if you had a conviction on your criminal record.
You may need a criminal history check when you:
- Search for a job, especially in the government and police service.
- Apply for an overseas visa.
- Adopt a child.
- Seek legal aid.
- Obtain certain types of insurance.
Having no criminal conviction recorded by the Court means you can claim to have no criminal record. However, it's important when you're asked this question to fully understand the information required.
Being asked; 'Have you ever been charged with breaking the law?' or 'have you ever been convicted by the Queensland Magistrates Court?' is different to 'do you have any recorded criminal convictions?' Even with no convictions recorded, you would still need to answer 'yes' to the first two questions.
What are common penalties in Queensland for minor offences?
Generally, you will receive a penalty if you break the law in Queensland, regardless of whether or not your conviction is recorded in your criminal history. Usually this can involve good behaviour bonds, fines, community services orders or mandatory attendance at a rehabilitation program.
Recording of a conviction often depends on meeting the terms of your Court penalty. This means if you fail to pay the specified fine within an appropriate time frame, or if you fail to attend your community service duties, you can be re-sentenced on your original offence, and a non-conviction can be rescinded.
A no conviction sentence greatly reduces the effect of past criminal incidents or behaviours on your future. However, following the rules of this Court decision can be complicated, which is why seeking the guidance of a solicitor is essential. Additionally, if you think your conviction was unjust, you should seek the help of a criminal law expert who will fight your corner. Beavon Lawyers are here to help – contact us today for a free consultation.