Do Dropped or Dismissed Charges Show Up on a Police Check?

Do Dropped or Dismissed Charges Show Up on a Police Check?

Have you been asked to consent to a national police check? This regulated system is a form of vetting individuals for several purposes, be it employment, volunteering or industry registration.

It’s common knowledge that criminal convictions are revealed on a police check, after authorities search the national criminal database. But what if you had a charge that was dropped or dismissed?

Many citizens ask the same question. Wondering about the outcome of a background check can be daunting. However, a dropped or dismissed charge is not lawfully considered a conviction.

Do Dropped or Dismissed Charges Show Up on a Police Check?

If the outcome of legal proceedings ends with the charges being dropped or dismissed, a conviction is not recorded on the accused record. An Australian police check only shows disclosable court outcomes.

Now, disclosable court outcomes means that there is information held about the applicant’s conviction which is eligible for disclosure under state laws. When you don’t have any police history, or if you have dropped/dismissed charges, the document will print that there are no disclosable court outcomes.

No conviction means no disclosable court outcomes.

What Else is Excluded From a Police Check?

Dismissed and dropped charges are not the only police history left out of a national police check. Background checks are thorough, but some information is simply not relevant to the check. This doesn’t mean the excluded information no longer exists or that it doesn’t matter. All police information is stored safely, and is available in certain events.

Excluded information from a police check includes;

  • Charges that are incomplete
  • Diversionary programs
  • Intervention orders
  • Not-guilty verdicts
  • Penalties imposed by persons other than the police
  • Offences which were settled in a different country (the Australian police check only covers police findings from Australian police databases)
  • Convictions for traffic offences
  • Spent convictions

Spent convictions are convictions which fall under a special scheme that removes a small number of offences from people’s records. It aims to promote a society in which individuals are not discriminated against on the basis of a criminal record. It is useful for those who have old and minor convictions, or penalties imposed as a juvenile.

What Does Show Up on a Police Check?

The national criminal history check reveals information in relation to the purpose of the check. There is no guarantee what will show and what won’t, unless you have a serious conviction on your record, or offences of a sexual nature.

To avoid surprises, it’s best to assume that your entire police history will be shown except for dropped and dismissed charges, or spent convictions. Every applicant is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

A police check will generally show;

  • Criminal convictions
  • Sexually related charges
  • Pending court charges
  • Driving and road convictions
  • Non-eligible convictions under the Spent Convictions Scheme

Do I Have to Disclose Dropped or Dismissed Charges?

As dropped and dismissed charges are not included in your police clearance, you do not have to divulge information on them. If you were to reveal this information to an employer for instance, the dropped or dismissed charge cannot be held against you.

The right to non-disclosure is a privacy law that grants individuals the legal right to refrain from giving certain information.

What is the Impact of a Dropped or Dismissed Charge?

The experience of going through court proceedings and being accused of a criminal offence can be mentally draining. However, if the outcome is a dropped or dismissed charge, the general impact it has on you and your life opportunities is relatively small.

You do not obtain a criminal record from the event, or a conviction from the court. The fact that you are not mandated to discuss the charges (unless enforced by law) means that it has little to no effect on your future endeavours.

You can apply for a police check online without fear of these charges coming to light. However, the details are still stored on police records.

How is a Police Check Obtained?

Apply for a police check online at any time by finding a suitable and authorised service provider like Crime Check Australia. With internet access, you can fill out the application forms from any location. Upon request, an Australian Federal Police Check must be obtained directly from the Australian Federal Police using the official website.

If you prefer, you can go down to the local police services and obtain the check there. This requires completing the form and returning it by post as a hardcopy.

The Australian police check is used nationwide as an informative, although not guaranteed, tool of assessing the identity of applicants for specific reasons.

How Does a Police Check Work?

Police checks are an excellent method of bringing useful police information from the criminal database to an authentic document for viewing. As so many people need a criminal background check, the process has been completely refined. Many applicants receive the certificate within 24 hours.

It begins with an application filed by an individual, either online or in person. The details like names and address history are searched in the national police database, with records covering all states and territories in Australia.

Police look for a match in records, verifying the identity of the applicant and revealing a criminal history, if they have one. The individual policing agencies then finalise the information to be produced for a national police check, in relation to the check’s purpose.

The document is produced on special paper, and viewed as a physical or electronic copy. The person can then present it to those asking for it, like employers, organisations and other authorities.

Can I Apply to Have Criminal Charges Withdrawn?

Yes, you can apply to have charges withdrawn if you have good reason to. It involves submitting an application form to the relevant decision makers. The process raises a dispute, attempting to have the charges against you taken back. Applying to have charges withdrawn is not a guaranteed solution, but it is an opportunity to voice your concerns in a formal matter.

Charges are withdrawn only in special conditions. It could be that there are issues raised in your case, such as illegally obtained evidence, or inappropriate behaviour from the police.

Requests to withdrawal charges can be done so in the form of a letter addressed to the Director of Public Prosecutions i.e. the DPP.

If unsuccessful, the case will continue to progress.

Are Dropped and Dismissed Charges the Same Thing?

While similar in nature, a dropped charge is different to a dismissed charge. Either way, you do not receive a conviction, and the case comes to a close.

  • A dropped charge occurs when charges against you are terminated. It means that the prosecution no longer seeks to pursue the case. The charges are dropped, and the case is over.
  • A dismissed charge is the result of a case being dismissed. The accused is not convicted of the charges, and the case is over. The prosecutor and the court can dismiss the case.

What Causes a Charge to be Dropped or Dismissed?

Special circumstances apply to dropped and dismissed cases. There are several different scenarios that can lead to this result. It generally stems from a case that is not solid in terms of evidence and cooperation, or the discovery of new information.

Charges have the potential to be dropped/dismissed should any of the following happen;

  • There is insufficient evidence to prosecute

Evidence can be the be all and end all of a successful conviction. Insufficient evidence results in a weak case that could lead to charges being dismissed.

  • New evidence is submitted

Trial proceedings are often built upon evidence and information. Throughout the case, evidence is brought to the case. Sometimes this new evidence casts doubt on previous information. The prior claims are no longer secure in terms of evidence.

  • The prosecution makes the decision to drop the charges

The prosecution can choose to drop charges should they wish to for various reasons. If the prosecution advises that the charges be dropped, the case is dismissed.

  • Cooperation is refused by the victim or witness

Where the law is concerned, many cases depend on the cooperation of the victim in the case, as well as witness testimony. Where there is a lack of cooperation, the prosecution will struggle to build a solid case.

A failure to cooperate could be determined by the victim not going to court, refusing to meet court deadlines, and a general refusal to testify in court.

  • The victim chooses to drop the case for any reason

A victim has the right to withdraw charges against an individual if they choose to. This can occur at any point during the trial, and even before the matter reaches court.

Other Possible Outcomes For Illegal Behaviour

Every event resulting in criminal charges against somebody is a unique matter. In Australia, there are lots of pending outcomes ranging from mild to severe, to almost non-existent. Your personal situation will be scrutinised to determine the most suitable punishment.

Penalties for offences can include any of the following, depending on what you are involved in;

  • Police caution
  • Fines
  • Bans (e.g. from driving if a traffic violation occurs)
  • Suspended sentence
  • Imprisonment
  • Diversion programs
  • Community corrections orders

Dropped and Dismissed Charges

Generally speaking, you don’t need to worry too much about charges against you which have now been dropped or dismissed by the court. Essentially, you can continue as if the experience never happened.

You can still apply for the nationally coordinated criminal history check and prepare for a ‘no disclosable court outcomes’ result. Of course, any other charges you’ve been convicted for will be disclosed.

If you believe you have grounds to dispute the charges against you, write to the relevant party expressing your claims. Having a dropped or dismissed charge is a good outcome to avoid a criminal record and the potentially lifelong challenge of disclosing your convictions when urged.