Can a Final Warning Be Overturned?
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?
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 OffenceSecondly, 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.
MitigationThe 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 WarningA ‘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 CourseI 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.