Last updated 4 July 2016

Criminal records

The Queensland Police Service keeps criminal records for all offenders. These records include details of arrests, court appearances, convictions, fingerprints (when applicable) and photographs. The police, Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services and the Childrens Court keep records of juvenile offenders.

The information in a person’s criminal history remains permanently on record, although this does not apply to a person against whom charges have been dismissed or dropped.

It is an offence for members of the police service to disclose information from criminal records other than for the purposes of the police service (s 12 Criminal Law (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act 1986 (Qld) and s 10.1 Police Service Administration Act 1990 (Qld) (PSA Act)). However, the Police Commissioner may release a criminal history to any police officer and to certain authorised government departments and public bodies (s 10.2 PSA Act).

Legal disabilities

An offender will generally suffer legal disabilities as a result of a conviction. These disabilities are imposed by law and society, and may last throughout the offender’s life. Many offenders also limit their own career ambitions and involvement in community life because they fear disclosure of their conviction.

The extent of the detriment suffered will depend upon whether the court records a conviction against the offender. The Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) (Penalties and Sentences Act) gives a judge or magistrate considerable discretion in deciding whether to record a conviction, depending upon what penalty has been imposed. In making this decision, the court will consider the nature of the offence, the offender’s character and age, and the impact that the recording of a conviction would have on the offender’s economic and social wellbeing or employment prospects (s 12 Penalties and Sentences Act). When the court is imposing a prison sentence, the court must record a conviction (see Imprisonment above). 

A conviction that is not recorded is usually taken not to be a conviction for any purpose, except for subsequent proceedings in relation to the same or other offences, or when the court is able to make certain orders under any legislation on the basis of a conviction (s 12(3) Penalties and Sentences Act).