I am an architect or aspiring architect convicted of a criminal offence. What are the consequences and do I have to disclose this?
Who does this apply to?
In Queensland, architects are subject to the Architects Act 2002 (Qld). Architects practicing 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 architects; however this article is solely for those practicing, or seeking to practice in Queensland.
Am I eligible to register as an architect? Do I need to disclose my charges or convictions?
The Board of Architects of Queensland must be satisfied you are fit to practice as an architect 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 Architects Act 2002 (Qld), or another offence relating to the practice of architecture. Spent convictions are explicitly exempt from being considered. The Act also allows other factors to be considered, such as whether you have previously been bankrupt as well as your physical and mental health.
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. Our office is able to assist you in determining this, and if you do have convictions which must be disclosed, we are able to assist in making submissions on why they should not be detrimental to your application.
What happens if I don’t tell the Board?
The Board is empowered to take disciplinary action against you, which includes the suspension or even cancellation of your license if they believe you were registered because of a “materially false or misleading representation or document”. Hence, by failing to disclose a conviction where required, you risk compromising your own interests. It is also a criminal offence to provide a false or misleading statement under the Act, and you could face further criminal sanctions.
The Board is explicitly authorised to request your criminal history from the Queensland Police Service, hence it is likely that any relevant convictions that you failed to disclose would be discovered.
I am already registered as an architect, 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 architect. 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 architecture.
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 practicing as an architect?
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, this will 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 practice as an architect, 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.