hi guys I’m desperate for any help you may be able to give me. In January I was running late for a train I took regularly, usually I bought a ticket in advance but because of running late I didn’t have time. I boarded the train and when I spoke to the ticket man to purchase a ticket his card payment machine froze and since I had no cash on me I was unable to purchase a ticket, he assured me however that I would be able to purchase the ticket at the station I exited the train on. On arriving at this station and walking to the ticket office I was stopped by southern rail employees and asked for my ticket, I explained the whole situation to them and they were unwilling to accept my story and issued me with a train fine. A week or so later I received a letter from southeastern which as far as I can remember included the details on how to make an appeal but none on how to make a payment (the address provided said do not send any payments to this address) I had then assumed that another letter would be sent with the details of how to pay. This letter never came and I ended up forgetting about the issue (somewhat careless on my part perhaps) however I have now been issued with a letter from the magistrates court telling me I must plead guilty or not guilty to the offence of rail fare evasion within 21 days and am looking at a possible criminal record if the courts decide against me. I am absolutely devastated I work with mental health clients for my job and am currently scheduled to begin a Masters to take my career to the next level but I’m terrified that because of this incident I will no longer be able to do so while having a criminal record. What are my options here? I really see no other way than potentially reaching out to southeastern and begging to pay the fine as well as any fees they may have incurred through starting legal proceedings against me. Is there any chance that southeastern may be willing to work with me to make this right without legal action or am I basically doomed? At the time I didn’t know it was an offence to board a train without a ticket and thought that it was okay to do so as long as you paid for the journey whilst on the train, I have clearly learned otherwise from this experience and I’m just truly desperate to resolve this without having any criminal consequences, any input you guys have would be majorly appreciated right now, thank you for reading.