Police Caution ? What's The Difference?
What is a police caution?
A police warning is something that the police can give you if you admit an offence and agree to it. It is not a criminal conviction, but it is a way of recoding a minor crime, such as writing graffiti on a bus shelter. It has to be given by a senior police officer. You can be charged if you do not accept it and the prosecution think there is enough evidence to take you to court.
A police warning can show on standard and enhanced DBS checks. A DBS check is a way for employers to check your criminal record, to help decide whether you are a suitable person to work for them. This includes deciding whether it is suitable for you to work with children or vulnerable adults. A DBS check can show different types of information, depending on the level of the check:
A basic DBS check shows any unspent convictions or conditional cautions that you have.
A standard DBS check shows any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings that you have.
An enhanced DBS check shows the same information as a standard check, plus any additional information that the police think is relevant to the job that you are applying for.
A police warning can affect your chances of getting a job, especially if it is related to the role that you are applying for. For example, if you have a police warning for shoplifting, you may find it hard to get a job in retail. However, some employers may be more lenient and consider other factors, such as how long ago the offence happened, how serious it was, and what you have done since then.
What is a caution before interview?
A caution before interview is something that the police must give you before they question you about a suspected offence. This is also known as the right to silence. It is not a way of telling you off, but a way of informing you of your legal rights. The caution before interview usually goes like this:
You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.
This means that you have the right to remain silent and not answer any questions that the police ask you. However, if you choose to do so, it may affect your chances of defending yourself in court later on. Anything that you do say to the police can be used as evidence against you in court.
The caution before interview is based on the principle that no one should be forced to incriminate themselves. It also aims to prevent the police from using unfair methods or pressure to make you confess or give false information. The caution before interview applies to anyone who is arrested or voluntarily attends a police station for questioning.
If you are given a caution before interview, you should think carefully about whether you want to answer any questions or not. You have the right to ask for legal advice from a solicitor before or during the interview. You also have the right to have someone else present during the interview, such as an appropriate adult if you are under 18 or have a mental disorder.
A caution before interview does not affect your DBS check, as it is not part of your criminal record. It is only a way of making sure that you understand your rights and the consequences of your actions.
How are they different?
The main differences between a police warning and a caution before interview are:
A police warning is given after you admit an offence, while a caution before interview is given before the police question you.
A police warning can affect your DBS check, while a caution before interview does not.
A police warning is a way of telling you off for a minor crime, while a caution before interview is a way of informing you of your legal rights.
What are the consequences of failing to mention something in the police interview?
One of the most important parts of the caution before interview is this: But it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court. This means that if you decide not to answer any questions or give an account of what happened, and then later try to use an explanation or evidence in court that could have been mentioned earlier, the court may draw an adverse inference from your silence. An adverse inference is when the court thinks that your silence suggests that you are guilty or lying.
For example, suppose that you are accused of stealing money from your employer’s cash register. The police ask you why there was money missing from the register when only you had access to it. You decide not to answer this question or give any explanation. Later in court, you try to say that someone else must have taken the money when you were not looking, and you have a witness who can confirm this. The court may think that this is a made-up story, because you did not mention it when the police asked you. The court may then use your silence as evidence against you, and find you guilty of theft.
Therefore, it is very important that you consider the consequences of failing to mention something in the police interview. If you have a reasonable explanation or evidence for what happened, you should tell the police as soon as possible, or at least consult a solicitor before deciding whether to speak or not. Otherwise, you may harm your defence and make it harder for yourself to prove your innocence in court.
In summary, a police warning and a caution before interview are two different things that have different purposes and effects. A police warning is given after you admit an offence and agree to be told off, and it can show on your DBS check. A caution before interview is given before the police question you about a suspected offence, and it does not affect your DBS check. However, if you fail to mention something in the police interview that you later rely on in court, the court may draw an adverse inference from your silence and find you guilty.
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