What should I do if I am faced with a police caution?

It can be a daunting experience going to the police station, whether you are there on a voluntary or involuntary basis, especially when you start hearing words such as “court” and “conviction”.

Hearing such words might make you panic which can lead to you making rash decisions, such as: not obtaining legal advice, signing a caution without understanding the full implications of accepting a caution. If you accept a caution you are admitting committing the offence you have been accused of and will then have a criminal record.   Effectively, a caution cannot be administered to a person who has not admitted the offence, which means that unless you make a clear admission of the offence a caution should not be offered.

Should I accept the caution?

Whether you should accept a caution will vary on a case by case basis and we strongly advise always getting legal advice in relation to this.

Should I seek legal advice?

Everybody has the right to free independent legal advice on legal aid at the police station if arrested for an alleged crime. However, if you are looking for advice outside of the police station Saunders Law can offer this at any time on a private fee basis. We have a team of experts that regularly provide guidance on caution matters.

Do I have to disclose my caution to my employer?

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 cautions do not need to be disclosed to an employer. However, it will still show up on a DBS check. Most cautions won’t show up after 6 years, however some offences will show up on a DBS check for life, and a list of these offences can be found here.

What happens if I accept the caution?

If you admit to an offence and agree to a caution without understanding the ramifications it would have in your life you may have future difficulties. A simple caution can have negative implications for travel and employment. The rules on cautions vary between each foreign jurisdiction, and you may be prevented from travelling freely to for instance the USA with a caution on your record.  It can also impact on your career especially if the your intended job is in a regulated profession such as a lawyer, or if you will work with vulnerable adults or children.

What happens if I refuse to accept a police caution?

If you refuse to accept a caution and the police have sufficient evidence, they may or may not charge you with the offence. If you are charged with an offence you will have to go to court to make a plea, but the burden of proof is on the prosecution and if the police do not have sufficient evidence, they may decide to take no further action and drop the case.   Saunders Law frequently makes representations to police and the Crown Prosecution Service to drop cases.

Can I get my caution removed?

It is possible to remove a caution from your record in certain circumstances. Saunders Law crime department can provide advice on whether or not you should accept a caution, and also assist with caution removal applications.    Police technical mistakes with cautions are not uncommon, and Saunders Law specialises in revealing them.

If you would like assistance, please get in touch with our team direct at

[email protected]

[email protected]

Or call 0207 632 4300 to speak to one of the team.


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