A range of circumstances render people ineligible for jury service. Applications for visas to travel overseas may also be affected by a police record. Criminal convictions will also limit eligibility to serve on a local council or be a member of parliament.
A person is disqualified from jury service if they:
• have ever committed an offence that carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment;
• have been sentenced to imprisonment or detained in an institution for three years or more;
• have in the last 10 years been detained or imprisoned for three months or more;
• have in the last five years been detained in a juvenile institution;
• have been put on a recognisance to be of good behaviour; or
There are other circumstances that may disqualify a person from serving as a juror. The complete list of circumstances is set out in schedule 1 of the Juries Act 2000 (Vic). Seek legal advice if you are unsure.
Some countries require you to disclose past arrests or convictions on visa applications. The country you apply to enter will automatically check your criminal record whether or not you disclose a conviction. An international listing of criminal records (the “movement alert list”) is checked. Most countries, including Australia, add offences committed by their citizens to the list. All countries have access to this list when processing visa and migration applications.
Having a criminal record may impact your ability to hold a public office. A person is disqualified (for seven years) from becoming or remaining a councillor in Victorian local government or a member of state parliament if, when aged over 18, they are convicted of an offence under Australian law that carries a maximum penalty of at least five years in jail. A person is disqualified from holding a seat in federal parliament if they have been convicted of an offence that is punishable by at least one year in jail, regardless of the actual penalty imposed.
People with criminal records cannot be appointed as directors and office holders of corporations under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) if they have been convicted of an indictable offence that:
• concerns the making, or participation in the making of decisions that affect the business of the corporation; or
• concerns an act that has the capacity to affect the corporation’s financial standing.
A person is also disqualified from managing a corporation if they are convicted of an offence that:
• is a contravention of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and punishable by at least one year in jail; or
• involves dishonesty and is punishable by at least three months in jail; or
• is an offence against the law of a foreign country and is punishable by at least one year in jail.
Note that a person who has been found guilty of these offences, but has not had a conviction recorded, is not disqualified from being appointed. A person with a relevant criminal history may apply to be appointed with the permission of ASIC or a court.
The rules for being a trustee of a charity that is registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) are the same as for being on the board of a company. If a charity wants to appoint a person to their board who would not normally be allowed to serve because of their criminal record, it can appeal to the ACNC.
The Associations Incorporation Reform Act 2012 (Vic) does not disqualify a person with a criminal record from acting as an office holder or committee member of an incorporated association. However, individual organisations may apply such restrictions in their rules of association or constitutions.
A criminal record may affect a person’s ability to organise fundraising. Fundraisers must be registered and comply with the Fundraising Act 1998 (Vic) (“Fundraising Act”). A person cannot be registered as a fundraiser if they have been found guilty of a disqualifying offence in the 10 years before applying for registration. Disqualifying offences include fraud, dishonesty, violence, and drug-trafficking offences punishable by at least three months in jail, or offences under the Fundraising Act. A person’s criminal record may affect their ability to participate in the management of charities that fundraise. However, some organisations are exempt from the requirement to register as a fundraiser (e.g. educational institutions, religious bodies, health agencies and trade unions).
The Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal may limit an award of financial assistance to a person having regard to their criminal history (s 54 Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 (Vic)).
There is no legislation that prohibits people with a criminal record from obtaining insurance, or that restricts insurers from offering it. Insurers are entitled to ask about your criminal history when you apply for insurance and you must answer any questions honestly.
The impact of a person’s criminal record depends on the type of insurance sought and the insurer’s underwriting guidelines. However, an insurance contract is unenforceable if the insured did not disclose their criminal history when asked by the insurer.