Are Criminal Charges Against a Person Publicly Available?

Have you been charged with a criminal offence? Are you worried that those criminal charges, including your name, are being made publicly available?


It is one of the most common concerns that defendants have, as it can impact their future and adversely affect their employment and visa prospects.

What is publicly available in criminal proceedings?

In New South Wales, we have principles of open justice. Open justice is fundamental to ensuring that Courts are transparent, fair and accountable for their decisions. This includes all Courts such as the Local Court, District Court and Supreme Court. All criminal and civil proceedings are open to the public, aside from domestic violence. The rationale of the open court principle is that the proceedings will be subjected to public scrutiny. It will also keep the courts in check to not act contrary to the regulations.



The public administration of justice will maintain the confidence and integrity of our courts. Media and individuals can view and comment on our justice system.



In New South Wales, the courts publish a daily list of criminal law and civil matters. The list includes the name of the offender, the listing type, and the courtroom and location they will appear. The list is published online; the records are public and freely accessible. However, the court list does not list the associated charge with the court appearance listing. Therefore, the criminal charges will not be listed.


Criminal Charges List


If you would like to access the daily court list, this can be done through the NSW online registry publishes an interactive daily list under Court Lists. The Court list is updated daily and lists the matters three weeks in advance.



You can use the court list to find the place, time and courtroom you will be appearing in. It is a great way to confirm information about specific cases running at court.



The court list allows you to search for a case by using their name, case number, location or date. In addition, it will notify you of the presiding Magistrate or Judge and what it is listed for.


Criminal Records


A criminal record is a written record of a person’s criminal convictions. It is a list of criminal charges a person has been convicted of. A criminal record is different from a criminal history. A criminal history lists all the offences a person have been charged and convicted of. These offences include all the non-conviction orders as well as any offences that were before the court.


Who can see a Criminal Record?

Many employers will request that their employees undergo a criminal record check before they commence employment. The criminal check will identify the person’s criminal history, and employers will form a view of a person’s character based on their criminal history.



Anyone can apply for a criminal check if they are over the age of 14. However, employers and other individuals must obtain the person’s written permission to obtain their criminal record on their behalf.


What Details are disclosed?


A criminal record check will disclose all criminal charges the person has been convicted of and any outstanding criminal charges. It will also disclose any charges dealt with in good behaviour bonds that still need to be finalised. If you would like to find the maximum penalty an offence carries, you can look up the law part code.


Law and Media Reports


The media has the right to access court records. The purpose of allowing access is for the media to compile a fair report on the proceeding. The media are entitled to inspect any document relating to criminal proceedings. This can occur anytime between the commencement of the proceeding and two days after they are disposed of. The type of documents that they are entitled to inspect are the following:



1.     Indictment;

2.     Court Attendance Notice;

3.     Witness statements;

4.     Brief of Evidence;

5.     Record of sentence outcome; and

6.     Police Factsheet (if the person pleads guilty).



However, there are several restrictions that media cannot publish or broadcast. The media will not be able to inspect documents subject to an order prohibited from being published, a suppression order or the proceedings held in closed court. The media are also restricted with the disclosure of the following:



1.     Spent convictions;

2.     Name of children offenders;

3.     Victims and evidence of sexual offences;

4.     Name of witnesses; and

5.     Anything that may impact the proper administration of justice.



Judges and Magistrates may choose to suppress information to protect victims and witnesses from ensuring the administration of justice and avoiding jeopardising the court proceedings.

Spent charges

In NSW, most offences will expire and will be identified as spent. For offences to be classified as spent, they must meet the following conditions:




·        Ten years have passed since the conviction; and

·        During the ten years, the person did not commit any further offence.



·        Three years have passed since the conviction;

·        During the three years, the child did not receive a control order; and

·        During the three years, the child did not run away.


However, the following criminal convictions cannot be spent:


·        Convictions with over six months sentence have been imposed;

·        Convictions for sexual assault; and

·        Convictions against companies and corporate bodies. 


If you have been charged with a criminal offence, it is crucial to seek legal advice from an experienced criminal lawyer. Contact Lyons Law Group today.


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