Leading criminal defence solicitor, David Wells explains the implications of receiving a formal police caution after arrest.
You have received a formal caution after arrest and interview. This invariably means that you have admitted the offence for which you were questioned and that you have not previously been cautioned or prosecuted for the same offence. A caution is a formal warning to be of good behaviour in the future. It becomes spent for the purposes of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 on the date it is given.
Do I have to accept the offer of a caution?
You do not have to accept the caution so there should not have been any pressure on you as a suspect to accept it. However, given that the one important qualifying factor for a caution after arrest is the admission to the offence being investigated, not accepting the offer of a caution will usually mean formal prosecution. This then runs the real risk of being convicted at court – hence having a criminal record. Only a court can convict an offender and so a caution is not to be regarded as being a conviction. The court can, however, take a caution into consideration if an offender finds himself or herself before a court being sentenced in the future.
I already have a caution; can I receive a second?
Receiving a caution for an offence almost always disqualifies an offender from receiving a second caution for the same offence. The Police do consider giving a caution for an offence if the suspect hasn’t been arrested before for the same offence, or if there is a substantial elapse of time since the previous caution.
Can I challenge the caution because I don’t believe I admitted the offence?
Difficulties can and do arise when the police administer a caution after arrest to an offender when no real admission has been made. Such errors are more likely to occur when a suspect is not represented at the police station. This is why Wells Burcombe always advise having a solicitor present in interview to protect your rights – not just in the interview itself, but to offer that additional level of protection to prevent errors being made after interview. Nobody should receive a caution because a police officer has misunderstood the law and incorrectly taken the view that a suspect has admitted an offence when in fact no admission has been made at all. Some inexperienced police officers feel that a suspect has admitted an offence just because he or she says ‘sorry’. Suspects can say they are sorry for all sorts of reasons which have nothing to do with guilt and so cautions can be incorrectly imposed. If you feel that you fall in to either of these categories and want to challenge the caution you received, call us today.
Does a caution remain on my record?
Cautions are covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and become spent immediately. The exception to this is the administering of conditional cautions which will become spent after 3 months. Conditional cautions are becoming more and more common.
Do I need to disclose my caution?
A person who has spent cautions does not have to disclose them to prospective employers, and employers cannot refuse to employ someone because they have a spent caution. However, there are exceptions to this: When applying for particular types of employment, for example, working with children or vulnerable adults, certain professions such as law and medicine, senior management posts within certain sectors and employment where matters of national security are involved. Application forms for employment will specifically state that it is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. In these situations, if you have a caution then you may be required to disclose it. In these circumstances, a caution or cautions may be disclosed on your Disclosure and Disbarring Service (DBS) criminal records check that any prospective employer will wish to make. Sexual and violent offences will almost always be disclosable.
Will my caution after arrest show up on a DBS check?
In order to determine whether your caution/conviction needs to be disclosed and whether it will show on a DBS check, see the flow chart link below:
Can I remove a caution from my record?
Cautions always remain on a person’s record and although the occasions when a person might successfully remove a caution will be rare, it can be done. If, for example, it transpires that no real admissions were made in the interview then a caution could be challenged. Likewise, if it could be established that the original arrest was unlawful then that may also give rise to a legitimate challenge. Challenges are made to ACRO Criminal Records Office and anyone in this position is strongly advised to seek legal advice first.
Contact David Wells direct on 07939 026751, or call Wells Burcombe in London (West Drayton) on 01895 449288 or in Hertfordshire (St Albans) on 01727 840900 or email us via our contact page.