Good character criteria for a Justice of the Peace (JP)

The Attorney-General's Department

Good character criteria for a Justice of the Peace (JP)

To recommend a suitable person be appointed as a Justice of the Peace, the Attorney-General must be satisfied that an applicant fulfils the criteria required by the Act and meets the requirements prescribed by the Regulations.

To be considered for appointment as a Justice of the Peace a person must be of good character. An applicant’s criminal history is most relevant to whether or not a person is of good character.

  • All Spent Convictions (with the exception of offences where no conviction was recorded) are included in the National Police Check for applicants seeking appointment as a JP and must be disclosed.
  • All applicants are provided with an opportunity to explain the circumstances surrounding any charges or convictions.

If an applicant does not disclose the charges or convictions, they will be provided an opportunity to explain why they did not, and will be asked to provide reasons why they believe they are suitable for appointment as a Justice of the Peace despite the charges and/or convictions against them.

There are some circumstances in which applications will be declined. These are where a person’s criminal history shows that they:

  • Have served a sentence of imprisonment for any offence.
  • Have been convicted of any offence involving dishonesty in the past 20 years (or ten years in the case of an offence committed as a juvenile).
  • Have been convicted of more than one offence in the past ten years.
  • Are currently subject to a good behaviour bond.
  • Are currently awaiting trial or sentence for any offence.
  • Are currently subject to a supervision order under section 269O of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935.
  • Are currently subject to a detention order under Part 1B Division 6 of the Crimes Act 1914 (Commonwealth).

The fact that an appeal is pending in relation to either a conviction or penalty for any of the circumstances listed above has no effect on the requirement to decline such an application.

In all other circumstances an application from a person whose criminal history discloses an offence will be assessed considering the following factors:

  • The nature and number of offence(s), and any penalty imposed.
  • Whether the charge(s) resulted in conviction or dismissal, or are still pending.
  • The dates of the offence(s) and the length of the crime-free period since the latest offence.
  • Whether or not the applicant was a juvenile at the time of the offence(s).
  • The merits of the application generally, including the employment or community need for the appointment, the strength of references, and any other information provided in the application or available to the Attorney-General’s Department.

The assessment of an applicant’s good character is not limited to reviewing the person’s criminal history. A range of other factors are relevant, including factors which point to an applicant’s honesty, integrity, capacity to act impartially, and to conduct themselves in such a way that the office of JP is not brought into disrepute. These include that the applicant has, in Australia or anywhere else:

  • Been adjudged in civil proceedings to have acted dishonestly.
  • Been disqualified from being involved in the management of any company under the Corporations Act 2001 (Commonwealth).
  • Been bankrupt or applied as a debtor to take the benefit of the laws relating to bankruptcy.

Applicants must disclose in the application form whether or not any of the above factors apply to them.

Additional enquiries about an applicant may be made in order to verify the information provided by the applicant and to assess the applicant’s good character. 

Failure to disclose information

Honesty and accuracy in completing documentation is an essential requirement for performing the functions of a JP. The failure to disclose a significant matter in the application form, and particularly any criminal offence, is therefore an important consideration in assessing the good character of an applicant.

Applications where the applicant has not disclosed a significant matter which is subsequently discovered will be declined unless there is a reasonable excuse as to why the applicant did not disclose an offence.

Last updated: 
Sunday, 23 February 2014
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