SRA Handbook

Criminal offences

Version 19 of the Handbook was published on 1 October 2017. For more information, please click "History" above.

1: Criminal offences


Unless there are exceptional circumstances, we will refuse your application if you have been convicted by a court of a criminal offence:


for which you received a custodial or suspended sentence;


involving dishonesty, fraud, perjury and/or bribery;


specifically in relation to which you have been included on the Violent and Sex Offender Register;


associated with obstructing the course of justice;


which demonstrated behaviour showing signs of discrimination towards others;


associated with terrorism;


which was racially aggravated;


which was motivated by any of the "protected" characteristics defined within the Equality Act 2010;


which in our judgment is so serious as to prevent commencement or continuation of a period of recognised training, admission as a solicitor, or approval as an authorised role holder; and/or


you have been convicted by a court of more than one criminal offence.

Guidance note


The provisions in 1.1(a) will not be relevant to entities because bodies corporate, and other unincorporated bodies and bodies of persons, cannot themselves receive custodial sentences.


We are more likely than not to refuse your application if you have:


been convicted by a court of a criminal offence not falling within 1.1 above but which has an impact on your character and suitability;


been included on the Violent and Sex Offender Register but in relation to your inclusion on the Register, you have not been convicted by a court of a criminal offence; and/or


accepted a caution for an offence involving dishonesty.


We may refuse your application if you have:


received a local warning from the police;


accepted a caution from the police for an offence not involving dishonesty;


received a Penalty Notice for Disorder from the police;


received a final warning or reprimand from the police (youths only); and/or


received a referral order from the courts (youths only).

Guidance note


Where a criminal conviction, warning, simple caution, Penalty Notice for Disorder and/or inclusion on the Violent and Sex Offender Register has been disclosed, we will not look behind the decision made by the police or the finding made by a court. However, we will take into account material such as sentencing remarks and any other independent information. See also Section 7 Evidence.


You should disclose details of any criminal charge(s) you may be facing. We will not determine your application until you can confirm that the charge(s) has/have either been dropped or the outcome of your case is known.


Police can only issue a caution if there is evidence that you are guilty of an offence and if you admit that you committed the offence. Therefore, by accepting a caution, please bear in mind that you are making an admission of guilt.


On Penalty Notices for Disorder no admission of guilt is required, and by paying the penalty, a recipient discharges liability for conviction for the offence - however, you should still disclose such matters as we will need to consider them.


Motoring offences that result in a criminal conviction must be disclosed. Motoring offences that do not result in a criminal conviction do not need to be disclosed.

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