Low-level criminal offending may be dealt with by way of a police caution as an alternative to being taken to court. Previously this option only existed for young offenders (see Formal Police Cautions and Informal Police Cautions).
The availability of this option is restricted to minor offences only and must be appropriate to the offence. In addition, an investigation of the matter must have determined that there would be a reasonable chance of conviction if the matter proceeded to court.
Use of an adult police caution must be approved by a Sergeant.
Factors that police will consider before making the decision to proceed with a police caution are:
- the offender’s criminal history and whether they are subject to any court orders
- whether the offender has previously had a police caution
- what the victim of the crime thinks
- what the police officers who detected the offence think
- the offender’s attitude
- the seriousness of the offence – cautions cannot be issued for serious offences such as major indictable offences, any aggravated offence or offences involving violence against a family member, any sexual offence or drug offence (with the exception of smoking or consuming cannabis)
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.