The police or Crown Prosecution Service can give you a caution (warning) or a penalty notice if you commit a minor crime.

Cautions

Cautions are given to anyone aged 10 or over for minor crimes - eg writing graffiti on a bus shelter.

You have to admit an offence and agree to be cautioned. You can be arrested and charged if you don’t agree.

A caution is not a criminal conviction, but it could be used as evidence of bad character if you go to court for another crime.

Conditional cautions

You have to stick to certain rules and restrictions as part of a conditional caution, eg:

  • going for treatment for drug abuse
  • fixing damage to a property

You could be charged with a crime if you don’t stick to the conditions.

Penalty notices for disorder

Penalty notices for disorder are given for offences like:

  • shoplifting
  • possessing cannabis
  • being drunk and disorderly in public

You’ll be asked to sign the penalty notice ticket. You won’t get a criminal conviction if you pay the penalty.

You can ask for a trial if you disagree with the penalty notice. You’ll get a bigger fine if you don’t ask for a trial but don’t pay the fine.

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