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Be cautious about police cautions

QUESTION:

My teenage son recently got involved in a fight after being forced to defend himself. He was arrested by the police, who offered to let him off with a caution, which he accepted. Will this have any repercussions later in life?

ANSWER:

Police cautions are not the magical ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card that you might imagine.

Many people arrested for low-level crime end up accepting a police caution as an easy way out, without realising that it will show up on checks with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS, formerly CRB). This can potentially then act as a bar to entering professions such as teaching, medicine, law, work with children or sometimes prejudice applications for  university, jobs or even insurance.

Some people are so shell-shocked at being taken to a police station, they accept a police caution far too readily, without proper advice, when in fact there may be insufficient evidence against them or a perfectly legitimate defence.

Of course, in circumstances where an offence has clearly been committed, a caution is the best outcome for a defendant. But in my experience, people very often accept cautions even though they don’t necessarily accept they are guilty of an offence.

Formal police cautions are always recorded and show up in DBS checks. Sadly, from your son’s point of view, it’s likely that he could have claimed self defence.

If you are ever arrested or questioned by police, the key point to remember is that you are entitled to free legal advice. A solicitor could be by your side within a matter of minutes. Never accept guilt or a police caution without seeking professional help - it could potentially be catastrophic for your future career.

Author: Gary Heaven

FDR Law

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. This article is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered in this article, please speak to FDR Law directly.

Published on 11th April 2014
(Last updated 28th March 2018)

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