Notice of intention to prosecute, please help!!

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Alex22

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Hi all,

I think I have made a big mistake and now I'm really, really scared.

Last month on a train from Welwyn Garden City to Moorgate, for some reason I decided to use my smartcard for the first time (instead of a paper ticket like I always do). To be honest I really struggled when trying to add credit to it on the ticket machine, and after a few minutes the train was approaching and I wasn't 100% sure if I managed to buy the ticket or not but I had the feeling I did. -It's clear to me now that I was wrong.-

Once on the train, the revenue inspector asked me for my ticket. I showed him the smartcard which he checked on his handheld but he wasn't able to verify whether it had any funds or not. He then proceeded to take my personal details and said that he was going to double check if there was a problem with the smartcard and that I may be contacted at some point just to let me know. That's it. He didn't mention that I'd broken any law nor that I had to pay a fine or anything.

Three days ago I received a letter of notice of intention to prosecute. The details of the offence are as follows:

"On the above date you were stopped and questioned in regard to the following alleged offence(s):

-Entering a train for the purpose of travelling without a ticket entitling travel."


There is a space below where I'm being asked to provide a response and tell what happened from my point of view.

On the first page, the message is this:

"On Thursday... your details were taken by a revenue protection inspector en route on board the train from WGC to Moorgate station.

"This letter is to inform you of our intention to take this case to the Magistrates Court and the enclosed form provides you with the opportunity to tell us what happened from your point of view. Information should be both factual and honest.

"Travel fraud costs the rail industry over £400 million per year and Govia Thameslink Railway has a zero tolerance approach to fare evasion on our network. We always ask that the courts impose the maximum penalty for offenders, which can include the following:

  • A criminal record
  • Fine up to £1000
  • Prison sentence
  • Suspended sentence
  • Community service
  • Seizure of any computer equipment (if involved)
  • Compensation
  • Costs

"You must reply to this letter using the attached document within 21 days of the above date.

"Please DO NOT send any money with your reply."



I've never been in this kind of situation before as I've never committed any offence in my life.

Could you guys please advise me as to what should I do? What should I write?

I rang the prosecutions department this morning and they told me that indeed the issue was that I didn't have any funds on the smartcard. I was also told to send my comments back as per the document request.

My main concerns are, am I going to get a criminal record? And if so, is there any possibility that I could even get a prison sentence?

I'm very sorry to trouble you with this. It's Monday and it's late, but I'm so stressed I couldn't even work properly today.

Many thanks in advance and I look forward to hearing back from you.

By the way, English is not my first language so apologies for any grammar/spelling mistakes.
 
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najaB

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My main concerns are, am I going to get a criminal record? And if so, is there any possibility that I could even get a prison sentence?
To answer your questions first: no. And no. Because of this:
The details of the offence are as follows:

"On the above date you were stopped and questioned in regard to the following alleged offence(s):

-Entering a train for the purpose of travelling without a ticket entitling travel."
This means that they intend to proceed with a prosecution for an offence contrary to the Railway Byelaws, a conviction for which would result in neither a criminal record, nor a custodial sentence.

However, it is far from certain that they will bring that prosecution. If you write to them explaining exactly what happened:
- that you tried to top up your card but something went wrong
- and apologise for the trouble you have caused them,

they may well decide to agree to drop the prosecution if you pay a suitable settlement amount.
 

455driver

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You are not being prosecuted (yet).

The letter is asking you for your version of why you didnt have a valid ticket for travel, once they have that information they will decide what course of action to take.

The prosecution stuff is just to focus your mind and realise it is a serious matter and needs to be replied to truthfully, accurately and quickly.

Simply write what you have written above, keeping it accurate, brief and concise, dont waffle on about irrelevances.
 

Alex22

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najaB and 455driver,

Many, many thanks for your quick response. I really appreciate it.

I will then write my comments and if you don't mind I will post it here before I send it to the train company to see what you think about it.

Have a good night and thank you again for your support.
 

spider8

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I suggest you don't rush but also don't leave it to the last minute. I suggest you get a photocopy of what you send and keep correspondence in a safe place to refer to. There may be more than one exchange of letters.

The tone of the letter you've received hasn't been written just for you; it's a 'form letter' designed, as someone already said, to merely grab your attention and not ignore them.
 

crehld

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I will then write my comments and if you don't mind I will post it here before I send it to the train company to see what you think about it.

Yes, do feel free to put up a draft here. If you trawl through this part of the forum you'll find a couple of examples which might help you get an idea about what to say and how to say it.
 

jon0844

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You can't yet put credit on The Key (Great Northern's smartcard system) so I assume you mean Oyster, in which case how could you put on any credit from a machine at Welwyn Garden City?

Oyster does not go out that far, so you couldn't have added money (or had any option to do so) or touched in at the gateline either.

Can you please clarify this a bit further?
 

Envy123

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You can't yet put credit on The Key (Great Northern's smartcard system) so I assume you mean Oyster, in which case how could you put on any credit from a machine at Welwyn Garden City?

Oyster does not go out that far, so you couldn't have added money (or had any option to do so) or touched in at the gateline either.

Can you please clarify this a bit further?

Yeah, I've also been wondering this myself.

KeyGo isn't yet implemented on GN, so there is a chance that it could've been Oyster.
 
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londonbridge

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If it was Oyster then wouldn't the RPI have asked where the OP boarded and, on being told WGC, pointed out that Oyster was not valid from that station.? Unless it was in a closed ticket wallet where the RPI couldn't see it was an Oyster without opening it.
 

B4rney

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Sorry to see your situation. I've sort of been there and come out the other end. Whilst the other guys' help will be priceless, they are stars on this forum. I wanted to give some reassurance, as I seriously needed it when I was going through it all. My solicitor told me that Govia are the most lenient of any of the train companies, TFL being the most ruthless. Whilst you might not get away with it, you sure have a valid reason to try especially if you have a paper trail of past ticket purchases.
 

Envy123

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If it was Oyster then wouldn't the RPI have asked where the OP boarded and, on being told WGC, pointed out that Oyster was not valid from that station.? Unless it was in a closed ticket wallet where the RPI couldn't see it was an Oyster without opening it.

I do see your point - if it was Oyster, then it would be a dispute of the PAYG area as well and the RPI would've said something about the boundary.

Re-reading the OP, the OP mentions "trying to add credit to it" then mentions trying to buy a ticket (the latter which I initially skipped), but then says that the "the issue was that I didn't have any funds on the smartcard" as opposed to a ticket. So, the possibilities are either:

1). The OP thought that KeyGo was available on GN. [but then again, wouldn't the RPI have mentioned that KeyGo is currently only available on Southern?]
2). They really meant a ticket on the Key [but the prosecution department mentioned the "lack of funds"?]
 

jon0844

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Something doesn't add up, and I suspect the OP may not be back.
 

Alex22

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Hi all,

Many thanks for following up on this. Apologies for my delay, I've been very busy at work.

Just to clarify, what happened was that I tried to add a single ticket to a smartcard (the Key I believe is called) for a journey from WGC to Moorgate using the machine at the station. Then I was told that that is not possible as you can only use it on a weekly or monthly basis (which I didn't know at the time).

Sorry for the misunderstanding.
 
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