A simple caution is a bit of an oxymoron. It is not simple and it needs to be approached ‘with caution’. If you were persuaded to accept a caution or are considering a caution on the basis that it is not a criminal record then think again.
To understand the impact of a caution it is important to understand that it is an admission of guilt to committing the offence(s) and it will form part of your criminal record held by the police on their National Computer. It will be kept by the police for future use and may be disclosed in a Court in any future proceedings. It may be disclosed to a current or prospective employer in some circumstances. It may affect the way you are dealt with by the Police if you are arrested for a crime again. It may be referred to in Court.
The information will be kept on the Police National Computer for a period of time depending on other guidelines. The information is kept for police operational reasons and in the interests of the prevention and detection of crime. Although a simple caution becomes spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 immediately it is administered, this does not protect you when seeking work in an occupation that is listed in the Exceptions Order to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, e.g. working with children and vulnerable adults or other excepted purposes such as seeking to get certain licences. Cautions will also be disclosed under the Disclosure & Barring Service standard and enhanced checks. Your DNA profile and finger prints are kept for a permitted period.
A simple caution for an offence in Schedule 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 will result in your becoming a relevant offender for the purposes of notification and registration requirements – Sex Offenders Register – for two years. The Disclosure & Barring Service keeps a list of those barred from working with children and vulnerable groups. The DBS may take a simple caution into account when reaching a decision about suitability of a person to work with children and vulnerable people. A simple caution for certain offences may lead you to being included on such a list and prevent you from working in a regulated post.
If new evidence comes to light to suggest a simple caution was inappropriate the police can prosecute you. If there is a victim then that person can still take civil action or bring a private prosecution. The police may give your name and address to the victim if necessary for legal action.
Some countries may not allow you to live there permanently and some may not allow you to visit. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act only applies in England and Wales and is not relevant for other countries.
The Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 contains provisions to restrict the given of cautions. When in force, Indictable only allegations need the permission of the DPP. The Secretary of State can make an Order to restrict various either way offences so that the giving of a caution can only follow in exceptional circumstances. There is no telling when this provision might be brought into force but it can be read here.
Contact Dennis Clarke for advice and help or to discuss your needs and agree a fee structure to deal with any problem you have with a caution.