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Police cautions, warnings and penalty notices

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


A caution can be  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 will be required to adhere to certain rules and restrictions as part of a conditional caution, eg going for treatment for drug abuse or fixing damage to a property.

You could be charged with a crime if you don't adhere to the conditions imposed on you.

Penalty notices for disorder

Penalty notices for disorder can only be given if you are18 years of age or over. They can be  given for offences like shoplifting, possessing cannabis or being drunk and disorderly in a  public place.

You will 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.