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Police and Court Records

Police records

Police records are restricted and can only be accessed in a limited way.

Criminal Convictions

An individual can request criminal conviction information themselves in the form of a police check, either through the State or Federalpolice. This may be requested by certain people or organisations like a potential employer, an adoption agency or for a visa, but only will be provided directly to that organisation if you consent. Under Commonwealth law there is a spent and minor convictions procedure, where if there have been no convictions for more than ten years (five for a Youth Court matter), and the conviction is minor then it will not be disclosed. The South Australia police also follow this as a matter of policy. See Effects of Criminal Convictions or the Criminal Records page on the AFP website.

Other organisations, departments or individuals have to show that the records are legitimately required for the investigation into potential risk, suspected offence and/or prosecution of an offender to obtain the records wtihout the consent of the individual. They will also need to specify the relevant section of legislation that provides these powers. Parents can only obtain this information about a child under 18 years of age with the child's consent.

Police Reports

Police reports of motor vehicle accidents or incidents can be released in certain circumstances. If you were involved in the incident you may obtain a police incident report or a vehicle collison report. If you are in some way associated (for example the owner of property damaged) but not mentioned in the report then you can get often still get the incident report if you provide information and/or proof on how you are associated and why you need the information. However, personal details of the parties will not be provided.

Freedom of Information

The usual procedures and exemptions apply to the police. See State Government.

Court Records

As a general rule courts are open to the public and the public may access information about what happens in court. Sometimes access is restricted or information suppressed to protect a witness or in the administration of justice, for example victim evidence in relation to sexual offences. However, generally anyone can obtain information about what happened in court, what orders were made or what was said when someone was sentenced.

Family or Federal Circuit Court matters in relation to family law proceedings (divorce, child custody etc) are closed and no information may be obtained by a person who is not a party to the proceedings. This also prevents a party to the proceedings from disclosing information. Only the lawyers, judges, persons directly involved in the case and any experts consulting on the case may see any of the documents. Judgements are published but the names are not, parties are referred to by an initial [Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) s 121 ].

Often it is required to provide family court orders to other organisations to ensure that they are complied with, such as childcare centres or schools. Whilst this does not breach confidentiality, the organisation can not pass on that information on to others to whom it is not relevant for the enforcement of the order. For example, the organisation may inform the relevant staff members, but may not inform other parents at the school or childcare.

Police and Court Records  :  Last Revised: Thu Jan 5th 2017
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.