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How Can I Get the Police to Caution Me?

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We offer a bespoke private fee service. If we have not already acted in your case, we can take over file from your duty solicitor or another firm. Often you will just need a good solicitor to write to the police setting out your case and the reasons to caution you. A caution rather than conviction can allow you to keep some jobs and stop the matter from ruining your life.

We can agree a reasonable fixed fee usually to go over the whole case and make written representations and arguments to the police asking them to avoid prosecution and to deal with the case by way of caution. We are experts at helping the police or Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to change their mind. We will remind them of their legal obligations by Law to consider a caution for certain cases. We have even secured cautions in very serious cases. We have also persuaded the police and CPS to drop from serious charges such as alleged drug dealing to cautions for possession for personal use. We have had alleged ABH and GBH cases dealt with by way of cautions for simple assault.

Whilst every case and client is different with our firm you get the benefit of a firm who have dealt with approximately 100,000 cases in the last 45 years. Very few firms can match this expertise!


"JD Spicer Zeb demonstrated a clear commitment to client service through their work with vulnerable and diverse individuals in what can be severely traumatic circumstances".

While receiving a caution from the police does not mean you have escaped without punishment, it is often a more desirable outcome than being arrested and charged. Cautions are widely used by the police and Crown Prosecutors as an alternative method of handling certain offences without referring to the courts. The police deal with thousands of cases and often fail to remind themselves to caution rather than charge. 

We will always make sure that there is enough evidence for the police or CPS to bring a criminal case against you known as the evidential stage. We will never advise you to accept a caution if we think we can win the case. Our team much prefer winning cases. You simply can not get a caution for very serious offending. A senior police officer has to grant authority in very serious cases. The police have to justify the use of police cautions with reference to policies laid down by the ministry of justice. If the case does pass the evidential stage, Crown Prosecutors must then decide whether a prosecution is needed in the public interest.

They must balance factors for and against prosecution carefully and fairly. Some factors may increase the need to prosecute but others may suggest that another course of action would be better. A prosecution will usually take place however unless there are public interest factors tending against prosecution which clearly outweigh those tending in favour. The CPS will only start or continue a prosecution if a case is strong as well as the public interest stage. There are different caution rules depending on the seriousness of the offence.

Minor offences such as assault and low-level damage and public disorder are known as a summary only and can only be dealt with in the magistrate's court. More serious offences like ABH, fraud, lower-level sexual assaults are known as either way offences and can also be dealt with in the crown court. More serious offences like robbery, rape and GBH S18 can only be dealt with in the crown court.

The more serious the offence the more difficult it is to secure a caution. Our job is to build a strong mitigation package for you to put before the police and CPS to help them agree not to prosecute and agree to a caution or to agree a caution for a lesser offence. If required we can engage high end superior barristers or Queens Counsel QC's to get involved in your case at the outset and advise on the strengths and weaknesses of your case.

The merits of each case are different and we recognise that with our vast experience.

A simple caution must not be given if the decision-maker considers that it is in the public interest for the offender to be prosecuted.

Factors the Police and CPS must consider

  • Effect on victim's physical or mental health
  • Suspect/Defendant elderly or in significant ill health
  • Loss or harm minor and single incident
  • Loss or harm put right
  •  Long delay between offence/charge or trial
  • Very small or nominal penalty likely 
  • cases dealt with in another way example by civil court or parties reconciled
  • Informer or other public interest immunity issues
  • Caution is more suitable outcome
  • Youth of offender
  • inappropriate to compel victim to come to court
  • Inappropriate to compel witness to come to court
  • The framework of the simple caution scheme for adults is contained in the Ministry of Justice - Simple Caution for Adult Offender Guidance (MoJ Guidance).

It applies to all decisions relating to simple cautions from the commencement date on 13 April 2015 regardless of when the offence was committed and must be read in conjunction with the Director’s Guidance on Charging 6th Edition (DG6) and the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

Here, we discuss what a caution is, as well as the factors that will influence the police’s decision to provide you with a caution, rather charging you.

What is a caution?

Cautions can be handed out by the police to anyone who commits a low-level offence. Cautions are often used to deal with first-time offenders, though this is not always the case.

If you already have an existing caution and are accused of another offence, it is unlikely that you’ll be offered another, unless the second offence is very minor and unrelated to the other.

Does a caution form part of your criminal record?

If you receive an official caution, this will form part of your criminal record and could be referred to in any future legal proceedings. While a caution is not a criminal conviction, it could be used as evidence of bad character should you appear in court for another crime.

It’s also important to note that cautions can show on standard and enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.

What will determine whether you are cautioned or arrested by the police?

In order to be handed a caution, you must first admit an offence and agree to be cautioned. If you fail to take these steps, or you raise any defence to the caution, this will likely lead to you being charged.

It’s also worth noting that a caution will only be offered if the decision-maker (the police) is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction if the offender were to be prosecuted.

There are two main types of cautions to be aware of. These are:

Simple Cautions

For a simple caution to be issued, the following criteria must be true:

  • You must be 18 or over
  • There is sufficient evidence to charge
  • You admit guilt of the offence
  • You agree to be given the caution

Conditional cautions

In contrast to a simple caution, conditional cautions have specific conditions that must be accepted to avoid prosecution for the offence. This could be a rehabilitative, reparative, or punitive condition.

Rehabilitative conditions aim to help offenders change their attitude to prevent reoffending, reparative conditions aim to help offenders fix the harm they have caused to a person or community and punitive conditions may include a fine.

Failing to stick to the conditions could result in you being charged.

It is important to note that, before accepting or refusing a caution, the police must:

  • Ensure you understand that you do not need to make an immediate decision
  • Ensure you have had the opportunity to receive legal advice
  • Confirm that you consent to receive the caution. A form must be signed to confirm this.

Should you seek legal advice if you have been handed a caution?

If you have been handed a caution by the police, you should always seek legal support before you decide whether to accept it.

It is absolutely essential that you exercise this right, as an expert criminal defence solicitor can guide you through the details related to your case and represent you if you do not wish to accept the caution.

Get immediate specialist legal advice about dealing with a caution

If you have been handed a caution for a minor criminal offence, our criminal defence solicitors are on hand to lend their expertise and talk you through your available options.

Our expert knowledge and vast experience of the criminal justice system means that you can be confident knowing that your case is in the most dedicated and experienced hands. We will provide clear advice in plain English along with sympathetic personal support to help you through this difficult time.

You can contact us 24-hours a day, seven days a week for an immediate free initial consultation, expert legal advice and representation.

Our highly experienced criminal defence lawyers offer:

  • 24/7 legal support in person and over the phone, 365 days a year
  • Representation anywhere in England or Wales
  • Accredited Police Station Representatives to support you during a police interview
  • Clear, effective legal advice in any language (see our languages spoken)
  • Local offices in LondonBirmingham or Manchester

If you need immediate advice and representation, please use our emergency contact numbers:

Birmingham – 07891 777090
Brent & Camden – 07836 577556
Manchester – 07798 701339

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