There is a common misunderstanding that a criminal record from when you were a child (younger than 18 years old gets abolished or removed once you are an adult. Unfortunately, it is not that simple!
While there are some circumstances where your criminal record from when you were a child will not show up,you cannot assume it simply wont show up on a criminal record check or if you are in Court.
Criminal Record Check’s
For most people getting a criminal record check, the record will only show criminal convictions that are not ‘spent’. When something is ‘spent’ it means it is no longer on your criminal record. For adult criminal records, read about spent convictions.
When you commit an offence as a child and if you are convicted of that offence, it will show up on a criminal record check until it becomes spent. For convictions received in the Children’s Court, they will only become spent once you complete a ‘crime free period’ from the date you are convicted in the Children’s Court. In order to complete a crime free period, you must not commit any further offence for three (3) years from the date of your conviction which:
- Results in you receiving a control order (this is what a sentence of imprisonment is known as in the Children’s Court); and
- Is not an offence punishable by imprisonment, and
- You have not been in prison for that crime free period.
If you do commit another offence during that period (e.g. 2 years into the crime free period) then the timer starts again from the date of the conviction for the new offence.
However, if you complete that crime free period, it means that the offence will not show up as a conviction on a criminal record check.
Criminal Record in Court
A criminal record that is used in Court is very different from the ordinary criminal record check which you get when you apply for a job. The Court’s get access to a record which will show, for example your arrests, court appearances, convictions, non-convictions and even charges when you were found not guilty.
There is one major exception to that rule, and it is under section 15 of the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987. Section 15 says the Court cannot receive any evidence of your prior record as a child if:
- You were note convicted of the offence or offences on your record; and
- Your last offence as a child was over two years ago.
This is very important as your criminal history is something a Magistrate or Judge seriously looks at when sentencing you. So, if you are for example, sentenced at 18 years old for an offence of Possessing a Prohibited Drug, and you had on your record an offence of Possessing a Prohibited Drug from when you were 15 years old and you weren’t convicted of that offence, the Prosecution cannot give the Court that record showing your offence from when you were 15.