Home > Ask Our Experts > Can a Final Warning Be Overturned?

Can a Final Warning Be Overturned?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 13 Apr 2013 |
Yot Police Caution Final Warning


My son received a final warning for head butting his friend in the school playground when he was 15. I let the police throw the book at him. We got a letter from the police who were satisfied that school had taken appropriate action and punished him and they wished to take the case no further. However, 2 weeks later the police came back and said that the parents were not happy with that and wanted the police to prosecute.

As I said I let the police throw the book at him. However, two things I never told the police were that 1) his mother had been made redundant by the school that very day and 2) The other boy's mother hated the headmaster at the school....

My son now wants to go to medical school and I am concerned about the Final Warning - can I try to get this overturned?

(J.S, 14 April 2009)


Ok, there are a number of issues here. Firstly, a final warning cannot be given unless there is sufficient evidence to prosecute, but that the police have decided not to do so.

Requirement to Admit the Offence

Secondly, and most importantly in this case, a final warning (much like the adult ‘caution’) can only be given to someone who has accepted that they have committed the offence. Therefore your son must have admitted that he did in fact head butt his friend. After admitting an offence for the purposes of receiving a caution, or a final warning, there is no right of appeal unless the decision to issue it was wrong in law, in which case it could be judicially reviewed (not applicable here.) However in criminal proceedings there are very limited circumstances in which a plea of guilty can be reopened - for example if the accused is insane, or entered a plea on the basis of negligent legal advice.


The circumstances surrounding the incident that you have mentioned aren’t directly relevant to whether or not the incident occurred, i.e. that your son assaulted his friend, and neither amount to a ‘defence’ in law. The fact that his mother had been made redundant by the school that day would have been useful mitigation in the event of a finding of guilt in a criminal prosecution, which could in effect have had a reducing effect on any sentence.

I am slightly confused as to the relevance of the other boy’s mother hating the headmaster at the school, but presume this is to do with their insistence on a prosecution.

Elements of the Final Warning

A ‘final warning’ in youth justice terms is not an actual conviction, but your son would have been assessed by YOT (Youth Offending Team) to establish what, if any, action would have needed to be taken to prevent future offending behaviour. There is no way around this: the referral is statutory.

A record of your son’s final warning will be kept by the police until he reaches 18 years of age, and will only be treated like a ‘conviction’ if he offends within that period of time. Bear in mind, however, that the police do keep records for up to 10 years in relation to final warnings.

Your Son's University Course

I understand your concern in relation to your son’s future ability to get into medical school. It would be advisable to check the requirements of the particular university in question before making an application. Some universities only ask for unspent convictions. Your son’s final warning will be spent two years after he receives it.

However, in my experience, it may be better to adopt a cautionary approach and be honest about what has happened. If required your son can explain his mother’s redundancy and any other mitigating circumstances when he discloses his application.

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hi i wanted to ask what jobs cant you get with a Final Warning and can you be a doctor,police or lawyer with it and the final warning is for making a hoax call to the police and the investigation went on for 6hrs
naomi - 13-Apr-13 @ 6:03 PM
I was given a three year caution by the housing benefit office in November 2011 due to not declaring a student loan,, despite I did inform the DWP whom said they would tell the housing benefit office, at the time of the interview under caution I told the investigators I was mentally disabled and it was ignored. I have now been diagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder/Schizoid by NHS Primary Care Community Mental Health Unit and would like to know if I can have the caution overturned and repayments cancelled as I was not mentally capable of decision then and now.
DR - 12-Dec-12 @ 10:19 AM
We live in Scotland, and my Grandson of 16yrs, was staying over at his friends who both are 15ysover the weekend in a very rural location, they were playing out with bb guns againt my wishes, in fact I knew nothing of it until I was told that saturday evening by him the police was called, he said he was lucky not to be charges under the fire arms act, because he is still at School and the gun was orange and it was a rural place only 6 cottages, even so, I understand the worry people and police have today, but boys will be boys, the polce called on me the follwing day because my grandson lives with me, the police informed us that my grandson will be given a formal written warning held for two years, he is at present righting out cv for apprenticeships what implication would this letter have on him getting work and also traveling on a over seas family holiday. so so worried.
nanna - 9-Jan-12 @ 1:57 PM
Hi, I wanted to know if there is anyway that I can have a police caution overturned? Here is the scenario - Around 5 years ago I accepted a police caution for accepting money (or payment £250) from a family friend to put a large amount of money into my account and transfer it out to another account (there ofcourse was a false reason why she couldnt transfer from her account herself). It transpired that she had been brainwashed by some guy who had been taking out false car loans in her name and needed accounts to launder the money. I become 'guilty' because I had accepted money for the using of my account; accept all i knew was that she wanted to transfer some money from my account to another account as she was buying a car and couldnt use her own account - Naive as it sounds, i did not know that was considered money laudering or that there was a wider fraud going on that she was apart of. I had no choice it seemed at the time but to except a caution which I am now regretting as I would like to enter the finacial services sector but am worried that this will be seen in any CRB or fraud prevention check. I should state that the lady/family freind I mention in this also only received a caution and was never convicted! I would pay money to have it removed/quashed/overturned, but 1. am not sure if it is a possibility and 2. who to approach. Any advice much appreciated. Thanks
LB - 25-May-11 @ 9:31 PM
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