I am an engineer or aspiring engineer charged with a criminal offence. What are the consequences and do I have to disclose this?
Who does this apply to?
In Queensland, engineers who practise in virtually every area of engineering are subject to the Professional Engineers Act 2002 (Qld). Engineers practising outside Queensland are not subject to this legislation; however similar legislation may exist in other states and territories. We are also able to assist interstate engineers; however this article is solely for those practising in Queensland.
Am I eligible to register as a professional engineer? Do I need to disclose my charges or convictions?
The Board of Professional Engineers of Queensland must be satisfied you are fit to practise as a registered professional engineer prior to accepting the registration. In determining fitness, the Board may have regard to various factors, including whether you have been convicted of an indictable offence, an offence against the Professional Engineers Act 2002 (Qld) or the preceding Act, or another offence relating to the practice of engineering. This applies regardless of whether the conviction was in Queensland, interstate, or in another country.
The Act requires you to provide “satisfactory evidence of [your] eligibility for registration” and “any other relevant information reasonably required by the board to decide the application”. As such, it may be mandatory to disclose your convictions, but only if they are convictions the board may have regard to when deciding your application. You should contact our office for assistance in determining this.
What happens if I don’t tell the Board?
The Board is empowered to conduct a criminal history check at any time, including upon applications for re-registration. The Board also likely conducts audits on a regular basis, where a criminal history check may be undertaken. Failing to disclose a conviction where required to may also constitute a criminal offence.
I am already registered as an engineer, do I need to disclose my criminal charges or convictions?
There is no positive obligation under the Act to disclose criminal convictions if you are already registered as an engineer. However, the Board may conduct criminal history checks to verify your fitness to practice at any time they choose. Furthermore, the Board may take disciplinary action, which could include the revocation of registration, against you if you have been convicted of an offence in any jurisdiction (including outside Australia) related to the practice of engineering.
What about when I am renewing my registration?
Registration is generally valid for a maximum of 12 months. When you apply for renewal, you must disclose any convictions that the board is permitted to have regard to in determining your application.
If I have a criminal conviction, will I be prohibited from practising as an engineer?
If you have a criminal conviction that the board is permitted to have regard to in determining your application, the board may be more likely to deny your application for registration. However, the board’s decision will ultimately depend on a variety of factors, including the offence committed, the scale of offending, the time since the offending conduct occurred, the circumstances surrounding the offence, your age at the time the offence was committed, and more. We are able to assist you in making submissions to the Board on why you are a fit person to practise as an engineer, despite the existence of relevant criminal convictions.
Please note that this advice is for general background information only and is not intended as legal advice you can rely on. To obtain legal advice you can rely on you must contact a lawyer who can advise you on the basis of your personal circumstances.