Is Restorative Justice the Best Way of Dealing With Criminal Offences?

PUBLISHED ON May 29, 2023

Becoming subject to criminal proceedings will place individuals under considerable stress, and likely financial strain. For many first-time offenders, particularly children and young adults, a variety of out-of-court disposal options – collectively known as ‘restorative justice’ – exist to lessen the stress, time and expense of criminal proceedings.

Depending on the allegation, the evidence against you, and whether or not you have a defence, Hudson Marshall Solicitors’ experienced lawyers can work with the Police and other agencies tenaciously seek to secure restorative justice measures in your legal matter, rather than the matter going to court.

Restorative Justice – What Are Cautions & Community Resolutions?

Restorative justice can be an alternative option for closing a criminal case without going through the court process. In some circumstances, if you admit a crime early on, and show remorse, it can provide closure to victims. The accused can apologize or provide other agreed restitution for their actions.

The restorative justice process allows first-time offenders to right their wrongs without receiving a criminal record. This can even extend to those with previous convictions, either not of a similar nature, or from a relatively long time before.

Effective Restorative Justice

The police need to see that you accept responsibility for the alleged offence and are remorseful for your actions before they offer it as a potential alternative to pursuing criminal proceedings through the courts.

Some common restorative justice initiatives include:

  • Adult (or youth) cautions – Simple cautions provide a means of dealing with low-level, mainly first-time, offending without a prosecution. A simple caution must not be offered to a person who has not admitted an offence and agreed to accept the simple caution. It must not be given if it is deemed in the public interest for the offender to be prosecuted. It is important to establish, where appropriate and possible, the victim’s views about the offence and the proposed disposal method.
  • Conditional Cautions – The public interest in the case may be met by a caution with suitable conditions providing reparation to the victim or community, which may modify offending behaviour;
  • Community resolutions – A type of out-of-court disposal that deals with low-level offences or antisocial behaviour through an informal agreement between the parties involved. It can be offered when the offender admits the offence and usually when the victim has agreed that they don’t want formal criminal action to be taken. It may provide, for example, an apology to the victim or the offender to help repair the damage caused.
  • Constituency specific schemes – e.g., ‘Checkpoint’ is a voluntary adult offender diversion scheme which is aimed at low and moderate-level offenders and helps them to identify and address the underlying causes of their offending.

A Warning About The Consequences of Accepting Cautions/Community Resolutions If You Are Innocent

To avoid doubt, if the Police contact you regarding any of the issues in this article, you must instruct a solicitor as a matter of utmost urgency. The criminal defence specialists at Hudson Marshall Solicitors will be best placed to inform you whether or not you should even consider accepting a caution/community resolution.

You should not accept any such offer from the police if you have not committed an offence. Moreover, there may be insufficient evidence to take the matter to court.

If you accept any of these less formal disposals, your police record would then show that you have committed that criminal offence. It may be referred to by the Police and Prosecuting Agencies if you are accused of other criminal offences in the future.

Adult cautions will be removed from standard and enhanced checks if six years have passed since the issue, provided it is not for a specified offence, such as a Robbery, Sexual Offence, or Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (ABH).

Youths – Reprimands, final warnings and youth cautions (including conditional cautions) received when under the age of 18 will be removed from standard and enhanced checks immediately, regardless of the offence. This means that even if your caution were for a specified offence, it would still be removed.

Accused of a criminal offence? Call Hudson Marshall Solicitors today to consult with experienced defence specialists.

Acquiring legal representation from the start is the best method for dealing with criminal offences through restorative justice. Your lawyer will look at all the evidence and determine the likelihood of there even being enough evidence to take the case to court. Restorative justice is not always the best choice, even though it may be a faster option. You may later come to regret going down that avenue.

Hudson Marshall Solicitors will answer your questions and guide you through your legal process. Whether we help you with restorative justice or if we determine going to court is the best choice, we will work with you every step of the way. Phone 0800 368 9939 to speak with our hard-working, plain-speaking team.


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