Firearms Lawyer Simon Munslow answers your legal questions.

Spent convictions and firearms licences

Some people are a bit wild in their youth and get into trouble with the law in respect to some minor anti social matters, before settling down and becoming a worthwhile member of society.

If they have stayed out of trouble for ten years, under the NSW Criminal Records Act 1991 (‘CRA’), these convictions become ‘spent’.

A ‘spent’ conviction is an offence of a ‘relatively minor’ nature, where a gaol term of no more than six months was served.  Upon completion of a crime free period, namely 10 years, the conviction is capable of becoming ‘spent’ under s7 (1)(a) of the CRA.

Once ‘spent’ a person is not required to disclose to any other person for any purpose information about the spent conviction and any question asked of that person is taken to refer only to convictions of the person that are not ‘spent’.

This raises an interesting question for shooters.  Does this mean that the CRA requires that the Firearms Registry can pay no regard to spent convictions, and so a person does not need to disclose that part of their background?

In Kocic v Commissioner of Police NSW Police Force (2014) NSWCA 368, the NSW Court of Appeal considered this issue, and their answer can be summarized as NO.

The prohibition on the use of a ‘spent conviction’ under s12(c) of the CRA does not extend to the conduct underlying the conviction, so that a person who has been convicted of an offence would need to describe the circumstances that gave rise to the offence in their application for a licence.

Even if this was not the law, I would suggest disclosure anyway, because information would still be on the COPS database and your ‘Criminal Record’.

If you disclose something in your application, you can explain it away.  If you do not disclose something- that the Police know about because there is a reference to it on the COPS database, they are left wondering whether you are a fit and proper person, because you have not disclosed something that may be relevant to the application. 

This has been prepared for general information only and does not constitute Legal Advice.  If required seek legal advice specific to your circumstances.

Suggested subjects for this legal blog are most welcome from anywhere in Australia.  If you have an idea, please email me on or call me on 02 6299 9690.





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