Son hacked into the school system- should he accept a caution?

(179 Posts)
Animavillis Sat 01-Feb-14 00:05:55

Hi, I'm desperately looking for some advise about my son's situation. He hacked into the school computer system and changed a desktop picture. In return, the school reported him to the police. After 3 months, the police decided to give him a conditional caution. Both the police, YOT and the firm which provided a duty solicitor during the police interview are nagging me to sign it. I am hesitant though because this will be on my son's record forever and he didn't do any damage to the school. His intention was to let them know that the system was insecure and easily accessible. What is going to happen if he doesn't sign it?

ivykaty44 Sat 01-Feb-14 10:59:00

Never accept a caution, let the CP's decide whether it goes further.....

A caution will stay on his record forever but I doubt the CP's will take this further and it is a gamble I would take

ivykaty44 Sat 01-Feb-14 11:00:04

Never accept a caution, let the CP's decide whether it goes further.....

A caution will stay on his record forever but I doubt the CP's will take this further and it is a gamble I would take

EnlightenedOwl Sat 01-Feb-14 11:03:02

Accept the caution. He has got off lightly.
The law has changed and cautions will not show on CRB checks

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/9955603/CRB-changes-mean-teachers-doctors-nurses-and-youth-leaders-will-not-have-to-disclose-minor-criminal-convictions.html

Letting the matter proceed will only make things worse.

EnlightenedOwl Sat 01-Feb-14 11:04:51

DH is an IT security expert. His approach is that unless you have prior approval to carry out PEN testing (penetration testing) to expose vulnerabilities in a computer system then you are in the wrong and then this is the most important part - your son made a change and that's a huge nono.

The flip side is that DH reckons your son might be interested in using these skills for good and should learn how to do it properly.

cricketballs Sat 01-Feb-14 11:20:04

Computer misuse offences
1 Unauthorised access to computer material.

(1)A person is guilty of an offence if—

(a)he causes a computer to perform any function with intent to secure access to any program or data held in any computer [F1, or to enable any such access to be secured]F1 ;

(b)the access he intends to secure [F2, or to enable to be secured,]F2 is unauthorised; and

(c)he knows at the time when he causes the computer to perform the function that that is the case.

(2)The intent a person has to have to commit an offence under this section need not be directed at—

(a)any particular program or data;

(b)a program or data of any particular kind; or

(c)a program or data held in any particular computer.

[F3(3)A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—

(a)on summary conviction in England and Wales, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both;

(b)on summary conviction in Scotland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both;

(c)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to a fine or to both.F3]

I would take the caution

LadyMuck Sat 01-Feb-14 11:26:26

Cricketballs, where did I suggest a detention? I would expect a school to have a fairly wide range of punishments - the ones I am involved with certainly do, and giving something back in terms of hours of community service may be more meaningful than getting a caution. Potentially every school playground fight could be a form of assault - would you expect your school to always ask the police to prosecute?

In the last 5 years the legislation under which convictions and cautions can be checked and show up in DBS checks has changed a number of times. A caution is on your record for life; when and whether you have to disclose it is a matter for legislation at the time, and none of us can predict what the legislation will be in 20-40 years time.

If the school is determined that they want your son to have a criminal record, then yes, a caution will not attract any additional sentence whereas a conviction would. Has your solicitor explained what the tariff would be for this offence?

LadyMuck Sat 01-Feb-14 11:27:39

How old is the child?

I can see why people are saying accept it if it disappears after 2 years and won't affect employment.

As an adult I would never accept one.

DameDeepRedBetty Sat 01-Feb-14 11:31:42

I'd want to take good legal advice on whether or not such a caution received at this age might have any impact on plans to move to or visit (eg) the United States in the future.

FairPhyllis Sat 01-Feb-14 11:33:23

He needs to think about consequences of accepting a caution that you might not immediately think of: e.g. if he ever wants to travel to the US and some other countries he would probably be ineligible for visa waiver and would have to declare a conviction and be interviewed for a visa (although I think for the US he would probably eventually be granted a visa if he was under 18 at the time of the offence).

It might make his life complicated in other ways you haven't thought of, so I would see a criminal solicitor before you do anything.

RufusTheReindeer Sat 01-Feb-14 11:33:56

Honest question

If he punched someone on the nose while at school that's an assault but is quite often dealt with internally

Did the school have to report him to the police?

It's probably to do with the assaulted person wanting to press charges but I don't know, I'm just curious

FairPhyllis Sat 01-Feb-14 11:37:18

BTW many immigration systems don't treat cautions as spent, ever, even if the country it was received in has a way of treating them as spent after so many years. He needs to think about if he'd ever like to emigrate or travel.

amistillsexy Sat 01-Feb-14 11:37:33

I think my actions as a parent would depend on what he actually did, where and how.
Did he do this during a lesson, for instance, or from home?
I'd be interested to know what changes he made. If he wrote 'I hacked the system' and left hid details, I might argue his case. If he posted a rude picture, he'd be in more bother than the cps could get him into grin
What were the circumstances, OP?

LadyMaryLikesCake Sat 01-Feb-14 11:38:39

So he went into the control panel of one of the computers at school and changed the picture on the screen, so just customised it?? confused Am I missing something? Seems incredibly heavy handed to me. Was the control panel 'admin only'?

FamiliesShareGerms Sat 01-Feb-14 11:40:36

Get independent legal advice and don't do anything under duress.

point him towards a career in GCHQ

LadyMaryLikesCake Sat 01-Feb-14 11:42:13

From your OP it just looks as though he changed the screen saver still confused That's really not hard. Could do with some more details.

LadyMuck Sat 01-Feb-14 12:31:58

And is he 11 or 17?

I can understand the process of getting the police involved etc to give him a wake-up call. But a caution just gives him a record, no sentence or additional punishment from an informal warning. But it counts as a conviction elsewhere because in order to accept a caution he has to admit that he did it.

I'm assuming that there is more to this, because, regardless of the potential relative severity of it as a crime, this would seem like a bit of an overreaction by the school?

cricketballs Sat 01-Feb-14 12:41:22

why is this being deemed as a little infringement? If he had physically broken into the school and defaced a wall then police involvement wouldn't be questioned - this is just the same! He broke in and defaced; just because it is not physical doesn't mean it is less of an offence

prh47bridge Sat 01-Feb-14 12:43:10

when and whether you have to disclose it is a matter for legislation at the time

The courts have decided this is a human rights issue. As such it trumps legislation. Indeed, the filtering that currently takes place is not covered by existing legislation. It takes place because the courts have ruled that the existing legislation is incompatible with human rights.

A future government could modify the filtering but if they tried to remove it completely or significantly increase the range of offences that are not filtered it is likely the courts would intervene.

many immigration systems don't treat cautions as spent

True, but few would refuse entry for a caution in these circumstances. A conviction would be more likely to result in a refusal.

Some of those posting advice seem to be working on the basis that if he refuses the caution nothing will happen. In reality the choice is probably between a caution and a conviction. Whatever he actually did once he got there, he has admitted hacking into the school's computer systems. That is a criminal offence and there would be a high likelihood of conviction. Under current CPS guidelines that means they would probably prosecute.

One of dds friends hacked into the school system and made some significant changes. He was suspended and now is not allowed onto the school system at all. If he needs to do computer work he has to work on a locked down laptop. This has really hit him where he hurts as he lives and breathes computers.

DontmindifIdo Sat 01-Feb-14 12:51:40

Is it likely the CPS would proecute? It seems like such a nothing crime (particularly compared to say, hitting someone at school, which as others have said, I've never heard of a police conviction following on from a school fight).

Plus would the school want the terrible publicity of proecuting? Surely the Head is also now hoping this goes away quietly, he'll be a laughing stock if it ends up in national press. (And might have to answer akward questions about how insecure their IT systems are, if I was a parent in the school I'd be thinking the head was petty but be concerned about my DCs records).

FairPhyllis Sat 01-Feb-14 13:16:43

Some of those posting advice seem to be working on the basis that if he refuses the caution nothing will happen

I want to clarify that in my advice to the OP I didn't mean to imply that nothing will happen if the DS refuses the caution - just that she and her son need professional advice to properly weigh up the chances and likely outcomes of prosecution against the consequences of accepting the caution. That is why I advised seeing a specialist solicitor.

He might also be barred from certain professions (e.g. solicitor) in either case.

Theimpossiblegirl Sat 01-Feb-14 13:16:43

It sounds like they should be encouraging him to use his abilities in a positive way. I'm not condoning what he did but a telling off would suffice as a first offence, he's just a kid and we're not America yet.

VoiceoversSoundSmug Sat 01-Feb-14 13:28:29

I would take the caution if I were you.

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