Court order from First Capital Connect

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moniker

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HI there,

I tapped in at Highbury & Islington through the disabled barrier but it didnt register unknowingly to me and so I walked through and boarded the FCC train.

An inspector was on the train and asked to see my Oyster so I showed her and she said I dont have a tix. I said I did tap in and explained it may not have registered (which has happened to me before, and also through the normal barrier as my wallet is quite full with other cards).

She didn't really listen or cared and so said I need to pay a £20 fine. I refused as I wasnt in the wrong and also as I only had money on me for my lunch, and so she asked for my details. At that point I panicked as she was quite intimidating and as I didnt want her to know where I lived I gave a previous address (which I didnt know was a criminal offence). I was flustered, embarrassed and stressed. She checked my address and said it was a false address when it wasnt. She said then that I would be going to court for giving false details. This made the situation worse and more stressful. She took my ID and wouldnt give it back so I called the police.
I said can I just pay the penalty with the money I have but she said it was too late. She asked if it was my intention to travel without a tix and said of course not.
She finally gave my ID card back and I left very upset.

I received a letter from FCC last week stating I was being pursued for poss prosecution due to intending to travel without a tix and giving a false address. I was given the chance to write back and tell my story but then i received another letter saying they will proceed with the court case.

Since the first letter I have been so stressed and nearly brought to tears every ime i think about it. Its just aweful, when the whole thing was just an honest mistake.

What can I do? what are my rights and responsibilities?
 
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jon0844

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Your responsibilities are to not lie! What were you thinking? If you refused to pay the PF because you weren't in the wrong, why panic? I'd be quite calm and stick to my story - but co-operate fully. If you're 100% right then you'll be okay.

If you touched in, you must have heard the beep or seen the green light? If it didn't work, you either got nothing (reader not operational) OR there was/is a problem with your Oyster. In any case, that is entirely your fault, which makes me think you knew you weren't totally in the right.

Now, you could try and establish if the reader had read your card - and made a mistake - but that doesn't really matter now as you're being done for giving a false address.

While I expect others on here to give advice, I would personally say that the most you can do is write a VERY groveling letter and seek an out of court settlement and be prepared to pay a fair whack to avoid the criminal conviction.
 

Skimble19

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I expect to recieve a letter along these lines shortly as I forgot my season ticket the other day - luckily for me I noticed whilst still on the train so wasn't flustered at the barriers and simply explained the situation. Now i have to send in a photocopy of my ticket and write an apology to them - I suspect had I lied the situation would have been considerably worse for no good reason.

I highly advise you to send them a full account of what happened.
 

DaveNewcastle

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I hesitate to contradict the advice of another forum member, but I have to tell you, moniker, that I cannot agree with the advice given by Skimble19.

The significant factor in your matter as I understand it, is the falsification of your name and/or address. In comparison, the Offence of Railway Fare Evasion (or failing to produce a valid ticket when requested) is merely a Byelaw transgression with no suggestion of Criminality.

Supplying a false name and address is a far more serious matter with the potential, if it was persued by the Company, to be a burden in several ways for some time. Any statement you make to the Company may incriminate you further and implicate you in a presumption of an intention to Commit more serious matters (e.g. intending to avoid payment, attempting to pervert the Course of Justice). It is conceivable that an apology will lead to a simple agreement to make a settlement, but the risk remains that it will not be accepted and you might have provided more incriminating evidence in your letter (and if you have no training in Law then you probably wouldn't know how to differentiate helpful mitigating circumstances from incriminating evidence).

My advice is to speak to a local Law Firm specialising in Criminal Defence work. Soon.
 

Clip

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Just out of interest, because I have nothing further to add to the advice of Dave but if you used the wide aisle gate at H&I to touch in the the barrier wouldve opened if you had enough credit as I have never seen these barriers closed and I use the station rather frequently at all times of the day.
 

jon0844

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The problem as I see it is that the false address was given to avoid being punished, and that is a pretty deliberate evasion.

And so that's what the charge is for, not the issue of whether the Oyster card had a valid open 'ticket' on it.

It is therefore somewhat different to having been caught without a season ticket, and where it's quite possible that FCC could still proceed with a byelaw 18 offence - even though it generally advises that you might be liable to a penalty fare. In recent months, it seems clear they'll go with the court route even where a PF might have sufficed, but that's mainly because there are some revenue officers only able to do PFs and some only able to (told to) do MG11s. As such, discretion now depends on who it is you meet.

In the case of lying to an authorised officer, I can't see any reason for them to settle but you can't do any harm by trying and offering a tidy sum for them to let you off (but keep your details on file for any future moment of madness).
 

Monty

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Welcome to the forums.

I tapped in at Highbury & Islington through the disabled barrier but it didnt register unknowingly to me and so I walked through and boarded the FCC train.
If the barrier had opened it's reasonable to say your card would have been registered when you touched in. Were the barriers in operation that day or were they open? As othersave said when you touch in or out you need to listen out for a single beep to say your journey has been recorded.

An inspector was on the train and asked to see my Oyster so I showed her and she said I dont have a tix. I said I did tap in and explained it may not have registered (which has happened to me before, and also through the normal barrier as my wallet is quite full with other cards).

She didn't really listen or cared and so said I need to pay a £20 fine. I refused as I wasnt in the wrong and also as I only had money on me for my lunch, and so she asked for my details.
The onus is on you to make sure you have a valid ticket for your journey, that includes validating your oystercard, so unfortunately you are in the wrong and you are liable to a penalty fare (£20 or twice that standard single fare whichever is the greater).

At that point I panicked as she was quite intimidating and as I didnt want her to know where I lived I gave a previous address (which I didnt know was a criminal offence). I was flustered, embarrassed and stressed. She checked my address and said it was a false address when it wasnt.
It depends what you mean by false? It was a previous address you no longer reside at, you have given false details. And you have made the situation far worse for yourself now. Pleading ignorance about not knowing it was a criminal offence will do you no favours either.

I received a letter from FCC last week stating I was being pursued for poss prosecution due to intending to travel without a tix and giving a false address. I was given the chance to write back and tell my story but then i received another letter saying they will proceed with the court case.
How long was it before you had your second letter? Look on the dates on each letter, you should normally have at least a week to respond with your side of the story. I have a gut feeling you when you recieved the first letter you either forgot about it or ignored it thinking it would go away.

I'll be honest with you, it is not looking good for you. Not only have you given false details to the inspector FCC may also argue to a magistrate it was your intention to avoid paying your fare because of that fact. When you write into FCC, I would apologise profusively and ask you wish to settle the matter outside of court. Please be aware that FCC may demand a substantial sum of money from you. Your only alternative is to plead your case in court and I have little doubt it would not end favorably for you.

I know this is not what you wish to hear but I feel it's important you understand the gravity of the situation, had you not given false details you would have only faced £20 PFN which you have the right to appeal against. As for your responsibilities, you must always make sure you have a valid ticket for your journey (this includes a validated oystercard). I would seriously consider seeking legal advice if FCC do not wish to settle out of court.
 

Chapeltom

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To let a penalty fare situation escalate to prosecution really is nothing but the OPs own fault. I'm sure you can pay penalty fares later, I'd have just accepted it had I been you as PFs are given out for honest mistakes not intentional fare-dodging. This has gone from being an acceptance of an honest mistake to the OP rather stupidly incriminating themselves by giving false details and refusing to pay a PF. FCC from what you'll read on here are very strict on ticketing issues and from reading previous cases, prosecution looks very much certain.
 
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DaveNewcastle

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(Twice in one evening and in the same thread . . . )
I am reluctant to disagree with other established members, but when one undertakes an evaluation of the risks and the probalilities, then I would be concerned that the following comment carries the low probability of a high risk outcome (probably a Conviction for a serious Criminal Offence)
. . .
In the case of lying to an authorised officer, I can't see any reason for them to settle but you can't do any harm by trying and offering a tidy sum for them to let you off (but keep your details on file for any future moment of madness).
Helpful advice would have a high probability of a low risk outcome AND a low probability of a high risk outcome.

It's my assessment of the information available that it could "do harm" to the OP if (s)he made any offer which reflected on the false Statements. That increases the probability of a high risk outcome.

[I would hope that my concern in this matter would be apparent if one viewed it from the Point of View of the Prosecutor and the Evidence which they have before them.]

I find the need to repeat myself. moniker, please do not write to the Company making any sort of offer. Please speak to a local Criminal Defence Lawyer. Please also refer them to the Railway Byelaws and, the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 which will assist in assessing the substantive matter of supplying a false name and address.
 
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jon0844

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Okay, I will go along and say that taking your advice might be better given the severity of the case.

For most offences, it's pretty clear from what has been written on here, along with other conversations I've had with staff at FCC (at various levels) and via PMs, that FCC appears keen to make a nice bit of revenue by seeking out of court settlements (I have asked before whether FCC are quite proactive in seeking these, or only do so if people ask?), but I do acknowledge that in this case they might not be so interested in a three or four figure settlement and might want to go for the conviction.

As such, my advice is merely an option and possibly not the best course of action.
 

tannedfrog

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To let a penalty fare situation escalate to prosecution really is nothing but the OPs own fault. I'm sure you can pay penalty fares later, I'd have just accepted it had I been you as PFs are given out for honest mistakes not intentional fare-dodging. This has gone from being an acceptance of an honest mistake to the OP rather stupidly incriminating themselves by giving false details and refusing to pay a PF. FCC from what you'll read on here are very strict on ticketing issues and from reading previous cases, prosecution looks very much certain.
Calling the person stupid isn't helpful though.

It might be obvious to people on this forum that accepting a penalty fare does not mean admitting an intention not to pay the correct fare, but most passengers would not know this, and would not know how frequently FCC go for prosecution which is of course a much more serious matter.
 

yorkie

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Calling the person stupid isn't helpful though.
He hasn't actually done that. While the first sentence of Chapeltom's post is unhelpful (and stating the obvious!) the rest of it is actually sound advice, precisely because...
It might be obvious to people on this forum that accepting a penalty fare does not mean admitting an intention not to pay the correct fare, but most passengers would not know this, and would not know how frequently FCC go for prosecution which is of course a much more serious matter.
But, of course, it's too late for the OP now. However many more people will read this thread and it may prove useful to others.

If I was asked whether or not FCC would agree to settle out of court (thus avoiding solicitors costs for both the FCC and the OP), I cannot possibly answer that, though in more cases than not that I am aware of, FCC have been willing to settle out of court. However DaveNewcastle is absolutely right that this is a high-risk option, for the reasons already stated.

Unfortunately I will not be offering to proof read any letters in this case, and am unable to provide any advice to assist the OP.
If the barrier had opened it's reasonable to say your card would have been registered when you touched in.
The OP appears to have used a wide aisle gate. I have observed that these gates are slow to close (for obvious reasons), though further speculation is unlikely to be helpful.
 

Monty

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The OP appears to have used a wide aisle gate. I have observed that these gates are slow to close (for obvious reasons), though further speculation is unlikely to be helpful.
I was thinking that, but didn't want to say it out loud. ;) I know what you mean about the WAGs though, when set to first come first serve they are a nightmare.
 

michael769

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I am afraid that I have to agree with Dave that as the worst case senario in this case carries very severe consequences including (albiet taking the OPs description at face value somewhat unlikely) a possible prison sentence, the internet is not a good place to be obtaining advice on their position.

As such I would urge the moniker to obtain competent face to face legal advice from a qualified solicitor as soon as possible.

I would urge anyone reading this thread that in the unlikely event of finding themselves in the OPs position that they do not provide false (including prior, friends or relatives) names and/or addresses to officials.
 
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yorkie

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The internet is not a place, it is a medium ;) (another misconception is with Oyster, which is not a product, it is also a medium).

But yes, the safest course of action is to consult a solicitor who is experienced in railway ticketing matters. Unfortunately they don't come cheap.
 

Ferret

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I'm going to come in on this one at this point and say that I think FCC have enough evidence here for a s.5 intent to avoid the fare prosecution, regardless of whether the OP manages to incriminate themselves further with an ill-judged letter. The issue of not being able to present a valid ticket was one thing, but having provided false details, the railway company has then got some strong ammunition to prove intent.

To my mind, the OP could contact a Solicitor but all they would be able to do as far as I can see is offer mitigation on the behalf of the OP. Whether there is any financial benefit in doing so (cost of solicitor v reduction in fine) I'm not sure.
 

DaveNewcastle

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Just for clarification . . .
. . . . the safest course of action is to consult a solicitor who is experienced in railway ticketing matters. Unfortunately they don't come cheap.
I am advising that the OP contacts a Criminal Defence Solicitor, which should be easy enough to find in any large town, and need not be costly. This does not require legal argument involving Railway Ticketing expertise.

. . . . To my mind, the OP could contact a Solicitor but all they would be able to do as far as I can see is offer mitigation on the behalf of the OP. Whether there is any financial benefit in doing so (cost of solicitor v reduction in fine) I'm not sure.
Perhaps, but there may be other strategies which would be available, depending on history and/or other factors, and negotiations may be possible.
 

oversteer

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I do symphathise with the uncertainty on Oyster cards though. At a quiet gateline it's straightforward. But at a busy rush hour line, you go to scan your card and it doesn't read, then the person behind you puts their ticket in/scans oyster and the gates open for them .. so you are sort of forced through with them and not 100% certain if your Oyster is valid.
If it says Seek Assistance it's a bit clearer, but you still can get pushed through if the line moves quick enough.
 

jon0844

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I do symphathise with the uncertainty on Oyster cards though. At a quiet gateline it's straightforward. But at a busy rush hour line, you go to scan your card and it doesn't read, then the person behind you puts their ticket in/scans oyster and the gates open for them .. so you are sort of forced through with them and not 100% certain if your Oyster is valid.
Yes, that's a very common problem. You do eventually learn to look at the reader for the green light to make sure that doesn't happen.

When I had a Travelcard, I wasn't bothered when it misread for some reason and I went through from the person behind. It was more annoying when the person in front didn't scan, and neither of us noticed so I touched out, let them out and got stuck.

But, if you push hard then you'll get through (and it will alarm) and staff never cared. They obviously knew it happened all the time too.
 

Ferret

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Perhaps, but there may be other strategies which would be available, depending on history and/or other factors, and negotiations may be possible.
To me, the only strategy available would be to attempt to keep the matter out of Court. Maybe I'm being over-simplistic, but I think regardless of whether the OP incriminates himself further, FCC have enough evidence already to prosecute - the only thing that will influence matters from now is whether the OP makes them an attractive enough offer to settle it out of Court or not. Maybe this is what you're referring to with regard to negotiation, Dave?
 
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