In general the advice is not to accept either a Caution or a Community Resolution, especially if your intention is to have your say in court. However always talk to an experienced protest law solicitor about your choices. Do not follow advice from a duty solicitor to accept a caution.
A caution is an admission of guilt and can stay on your record for many years, depending on your personal circumstances. It can affect visas, travel, and job applications. Often the police offer cautions in ‘Public Order’ cases when the evidence they have is weak. It’s an easy result for them: an admission of guilt without having to present evidence against you.
However, there are specific instances when you might want to think about accepting a caution, such as you committed a fairly serious offence and the caution allows you to walk away without having to go to court, and that may be in your interest. Or perhaps there are personal circumstances that mean you want to get the process over and done with and don’t mind having a caution.
Motivations to accept a caution are that it is a quick and cheap route to end the legal process and removes additional uncertainty. You have to admit what you have done though, and need to make sure you don’t grass yourself up in detail and then find the offer is withdrawn and your words used against you. Also be careful not to talk about other people, and consider whether admitting your guilt might be a way for the police to pressure others (although they will readily lie and tell people their friends have admitted all/grassed them up).
Community Resolution Orders Summary
It’s like an apology for what you have done. You have to make a clear admission of guilt.
Not classed as a conviction (so no criminal record), but can be taken into consideration if further offences committed and may be recorded and accessible for police information. These tend to be recorded locally at the police station where you were taken. May still show up on an enhanced DBS check. Primarily for first time offenders who admit guilt, and the victim’s views are taken into account.