terrified due to fare evasion

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endoftheworld

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So basically I bought a one day travelcard on Young Persons (YP) railcard (cost £5.90) the standard price of travelcard is £8.00... BUT I didn't have a valid young persons railcard and that's because I don't actually own one. I used to but obviously I'm almost 30 so I won't be able to use one anyway. So basically yes, I don't have much money at the moment and so I didn't intend to pay the full fare and buy a valid ticket. I admit this. Now unfortunately, I actually also admitted this to the plain clothes police officer who questioned me. Basically as I got off the train he saw I didn't have a valid ticket then got out the paperwork etc. He then asked me a list of questions, I can't remember, I was quite nervous at this point but wasn't too scared as I thought he would just issue me with the £20 fine and that would be it.

He asks for my details etc. write my name and address down correctly, he then makes that call, writes something down and then more questions – did I deliberately try to avoid paying the full fare? I said yes, I thought honesty would be the best policy here. I later mentioned I didn't have much money in my bank account and had some change so used that to buy this discounted train ticket. He asked when's the last time I saw my railcard and I said I can't remember maybe 2 years ago or something.
Then he read the caution and I signed the form and he said it's going to be sent through to South Eastern rail and you'll hear from them at some point. I asked more questions, asked him about the criminal conviction but he said he doesn't know. No penalty fare, I didn't get any paperwork etc. and he kept hold of my ticket.

Now what makes my case worse is that I've done this twice before, once I got reported for not having any ticket because I was rushing to get somewhere, the second time again I had purchased a discounted train ticket and didn't have the card for it. On both occasions they just asked me to pay the £20 fine and that was it. However, both times they also took down my details which means they're on my record...and now this third instance.

I think I'm screwed here.
 
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bb21

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I must say that it is very difficult to advise what to do next if this is your third time. There is a very good chance that SouthEastern will take you to court (for an easy conviction under the Regulation of Railways Act prosecution) as quite clearly you have not learnt from the Penalty Fares you were charged on previous occasions.

Are you sure it was a police officer who cautioned you? By the sound of it, it seems to me that it was one of SouthEastern's Revenue Protection Inspector, although this would probably matter very little.

Of course this is not the end of the world. If you "apologise and beg", there is always a chance that they would let you off again with a financial penalty, how much very difficult to say. It would probably be financially better off for them to accept a significant settlement than to go to court. That said, they might simply decide that you need to be taught a harsh lesson and opt for a pretty straight forward prosecution. If they do decide to keep this one out of court, please consider yourself very very lucky.

If you desperately want to avoid ending up with a criminal record, I think you will need to seek professional legal help on this, which of course could also be rather costly.

I'm sorry that I cannot bring you better news, however I have not heard of a case previously of a second repeated offence, so it would be irresponsible of me to offer any unrealistic optimism, although I must say that there is no point beating yourself up for this now, as the damage has already been done. You need to consider the next steps with a clear head.

Some of our more experienced members in legal matters might be able to offer some other insight.
 

endoftheworld

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Thanks for your response. I am petrified really. Can't quite believe this is happening.
Is it possible that they wouldn't have the records of the previous offences?
I heard like you say from a few other people that it is far easier for the train companies to simply accept a financial settlement than to go to court. So this is what I'm hoping. What is the most likely outcome given the information here? Would I be looking at a criminal record? Obviously it would be the worst nightmare, but if it goes that far is it possible to avoid getting one? Would a good lawyer be able to fight my case ?
 

michael769

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Given the circumstances of the case combined with your record it is likely that the prosecutors will conclude that you are a persistant and regular offender, so I would not e surprised if you find yourself charged with one of the more serious offences available, possibly one under the Fraud Act.

While detention is unusual for fare dodging, it cannot be ruled out for repeat offenders, i suspect that it will remain unlikely for you this time, but as the risk exists I urge you to seek the assistance of a solicitor as a matter of urgency.
 

Monty

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I hate to be repeating what others have already said but I see very little hope in any kind of resolution that would be of benefit to the OP. it's an open and shut case and a very easy prosecution on the Regulation of the Railways Act 1889, to make matters worse they have been dealt with previously for similar offences. There is very little once rice here for the TOC to settle out of court, it's imperative that the OP seeks legal advice at once.
 

tony6499

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The £20 penalty fare is for honest mistakes not for deliberate fare evasion that is why you were cautioned and reported
 

ainsworth74

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I would strongly advise you to seek professional legal advice as soon as possible. You've been caught previously and they will have a record of this fact therefore they're unlikely to be willing to accept an out of court settlement with such a slam dunk prosecution. That being said you could always try however I would be very surprised if they accepted such a settlement and even if they did I imagine they would ask for a considerable sum of money to do so.
 

Antman

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So basically I bought a one day travelcard on Young Persons (YP) railcard (cost £5.90) the standard price of travelcard is £8.00... BUT I didn't have a valid young persons railcard and that's because I don't actually own one. I used to but obviously I'm almost 30 so I won't be able to use one anyway. So basically yes, I don't have much money at the moment and so I didn't intend to pay the full fare and buy a valid ticket. I admit this. Now unfortunately, I actually also admitted this to the plain clothes police officer who questioned me. Basically as I got off the train he saw I didn't have a valid ticket then got out the paperwork etc. He then asked me a list of questions, I can't remember, I was quite nervous at this point but wasn't too scared as I thought he would just issue me with the £20 fine and that would be it.

He asks for my details etc. write my name and address down correctly, he then makes that call, writes something down and then more questions – did I deliberately try to avoid paying the full fare? I said yes, I thought honesty would be the best policy here. I later mentioned I didn't have much money in my bank account and had some change so used that to buy this discounted train ticket. He asked when's the last time I saw my railcard and I said I can't remember maybe 2 years ago or something.
Then he read the caution and I signed the form and he said it's going to be sent through to South Eastern rail and you'll hear from them at some point. I asked more questions, asked him about the criminal conviction but he said he doesn't know. No penalty fare, I didn't get any paperwork etc. and he kept hold of my ticket.

Now what makes my case worse is that I've done this twice before, once I got reported for not having any ticket because I was rushing to get somewhere, the second time again I had purchased a discounted train ticket and didn't have the card for it. On both occasions they just asked me to pay the £20 fine and that was it. However, both times they also took down my details which means they're on my record...and now this third instance.

I think I'm screwed here.
Isn't 'terrified' a slight exageration? If as it appears you have dodged the fare on a regular basis you cannot expect too much sympathy, however it isn't a hanging offence.

Are you sure it was a plain clothed police officer, as far as I am aware they don't normally check tickets? Very laudable for you think honesty is the best policy but in that situation you would have probably been better to say nothing at all.

Who knows, you may not hear anymore about it but as others said it is probably best to get some legal advice.
 

island

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The problem here is that Southeastern is likely to have your details on file already, and when the chap phoned up (are you sure it was a police officer? much more likely to have been an Authorised Collector/Revenue Protection Inspector) he may well have been told that you had previous history and therefore is reporting you for consideration of prosecution instead of issuing you a Penalty Fare. After some time, which could be 2-3 weeks or several months or anything in between, you will receive a letter from or on behalf of Southeastern probably asking for another statement of your version of events.

The offence you have committed, and, it seems, admitted to in a statement, is under section 5 of the Regulation of Railways Act, 1889. It carries a criminal record and a penalty of a fine of up to £1,000 and three months in prison. However, it is basically unknown for someone to be sent to prison for a first conviction, and the sentencing guidelines would suggest a fine somewhere around one week's income.

For your own sake, please stop travelling by train if you are not in a position to pay the full fare. If you are very hard-up, you may wish to use the bus instead which is £1.40 a journey to a maximum of £4.40 a day on Oyster or £19.60 for a weekly pass. Even if you manage to get off this time, you are rapidly running out of luck!

I also echo the above suggestions to get urgent legal advice.
 

Stigy

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If it was a Police Officer (which it wasn't given how the matter was dealt with apparently by southeastern) you'd probably have been better off and may well have received a Police Caution. This would still have been recorded on the PNC but isn't as bad a going to court. This isn't to be confused with the caution that you'll be read when being reported for an offence. You'd know if you've received a caution for an offence as would have to sign an admission to all intents and purposes.

Usually previous recorded convictions of a similar nature would deem one inappropriate for a caution, but the CPS do seem to dish them out like sweets. In plain clothes, it's a bit naughty for the staff member not to introduce himself as rail staff (the fact that you refer to him as a Police Officer infers he hadn't made clear who he was)
 
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GadgetMan

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I was thinking of suggesting that, but in all probability if the OP is struggling to find £2.10 he is unlikely to manage £30, and it won't be useful during the week on Travelcards.
It is pretty clear he is more than able to cover the £2.10 he is dodging as he is/was prepared to pay the £20 PF as they have done in the past. Unless ofcourse the previous £20 Penalties are still outstanding and haven't been settled.
 
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Flamingo

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It is pretty clear he is more than able to cover the £2.10 he is dodging as he is/was prepared to pay the £20 PF as they have done in the past. Unless ofcourse the previous £20 Penalties are still outstanding and haven't been settled.
Or the math meant that paying £20 extra every few months was worth the cheaper fare (or maybe no ticket at all) the rest of the time...
 

endoftheworld

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Thanks for your responses. I just feel sick to my stomach. I can barely sleep, I have that feeling in my gut like someone's just died, constantly. It feels terrible. I'm ashamed of myself and can't believe this is even happening.


Anyway, last night I did get talking to a few other people and they said that I'm unlikely to be prosecuted. That basically, they won't prosecute you unless you continue to avoid paying penalty fares and have dodged numerous times before. They also said they'll definitely send out a penalty fare notice FIRST before anything else. I need to pay that and then that's it. It's only if I continue to refuse to pay they may threaten further action. So they're believing that in general they try and not prosecute the odd fare dodger for a minor offence but rather punish the serial dodgers who do it all the time AND don't pay their resulting penalty fares. They think all I should get first is a letter from the railway company saying you were stopped at x and so on and that you are owed £X. Then it's just a normal penalty fare which you decide to pay off. They said I won't get a notice of intention to prosecute just like that. They seemed very sure on the phone that that's what happens. Also they said the guy who stopped me is likely to be a revenue protection officer or railway officer ? rather than the police as I initially thought, since although he had a badge similar to the police he did not give me any paperwork at the end like the police always do...?


But I don't know. The officer when he stopped me read out my rights (said the caution) and took more questions then made me sign the statement. And I was given no paperwork whatsoever. It doesn't sound from that I'm just going to get a penalty notice. He mentioned he's not sure what will happen, can't say what would happen, whether or not I'll get convicted, just to wait to hear from them. To be honest the guy who caught me wasn't all that clear and didn't even introduce himself when he stopped me.

Also just wondering how difficult life is going to be for me if I do get a Criminal Record? I mean, I know it can prevent you from getting certain jobs, but how else can it affect you? I just need to be prepared.
 

IanXC

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Anyway, last night I did get talking to a few other people and they said that I'm unlikely to be prosecuted. That basically, they won't prosecute you unless you continue to avoid paying penalty fares and have dodged numerous times before. They also said they'll definitely send out a penalty fare notice FIRST before anything else.
Who are "a few other people" because I don't think they're helping! Penalty Fares have to be issued on the spot - you don't get them by post!

So they're believing that in general they try and not prosecute the odd fare dodger for a minor offence but rather punish the serial dodgers who do it all the time AND don't pay their resulting penalty fares. They think all I should get first is a letter from the railway company saying you were stopped at x and so on and that you are owed £X. Then it's just a normal penalty fare which you decide to pay off. They said I won't get a notice of intention to prosecute just like that. They seemed very sure on the phone that that's what happens.
Again who is "they" on the phone? Much as you've said "they try and not prosecute the odd fare dodger for a minor offence", I think you need to see this from the Train Company's point of view. It sounds like you've had Penalty Fares in the past, now they have caught you travelling with a ticket which you knew could not possibly have been valid and you've said to them that you did it to save money. I think you need to consider that in their view you could be a "serial dodger".

I cannot emphasise enough what previous posters have recommended; obtain urgent legal advice.
 

34D

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If your financial situation is as dire as you state, the CAB may be a good starting place. They can possibly refer you to a pro bono lawyer, or try to speak with south eastern.

You may wish to check the detail of the TfL Jobcentre plus Oystercard to see whether you are eligible for cheap bus and train fares.
 

jon0844

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In plain clothes, it's a bit naughty for the staff member not to introduce himself as rail staff (the fact that you refer to him as a Police Officer infers he hadn't made clear who he was)
Chances are he did, but it may not have been heard during the initial confusion (inevitable with plain clothed RPIs) and when he flashed his (TOC) warrant card, it's easy to jump to the conclusion he was a police officer. They do look pretty similar.

One thing that is 100% certain is that there won't be a penalty fare on offer for this, which is quite clearly fare evasion, and where a PF would not apply.
 

tony6499

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I think you need some real legal advice as what you're being told is wrong, you have gone far beyond the penalty fare stage.
 

maniacmartin

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Anyway, last night I did get talking to a few other people
Whoever they are, they are wrong. You had your second chances with Penalty Fares previously, but clearly didn't learn from your mistakes deliberate fare evasion, so now you will most likely be prosecuted, unless you can negotiate an out-of-court settlement.
 

island

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Anyway, last night I did get talking to a few other people and they said that I'm unlikely to be prosecuted. That basically, they won't prosecute you unless you continue to avoid paying penalty fares and have dodged numerous times before. They also said they'll definitely send out a penalty fare notice FIRST before anything else. I need to pay that and then that's it.
Whoever the "few other people" are, they're wrong. Penalty Fares are not issued by post. And you are, by your own admission, a serial dodger.

They think all I should get first is a letter from the railway company saying you were stopped at x and so on
Yes, that's likely to happen.

and that you are owed £X.
Definitely won't say you are owed £X, nor for that matter is it likely to say you owe £X.

Then it's just a normal penalty fare which you decide to pay off. They said I won't get a notice of intention to prosecute just like that. They seemed very sure on the phone that that's what happens.
I am quite sure they are wrong, judging by the cases we see on this board.

Also they said the guy who stopped me is likely to be a revenue protection officer or railway officer ? rather than the police as I initially thought, since although he had a badge similar to the police he did not give me any paperwork at the end like the police always do...?
That much is sensible.

It doesn't sound from that I'm just going to get a penalty notice.
Agreed.

Also just wondering how difficult life is going to be for me if I do get a Criminal Record? I mean, I know it can prevent you from getting certain jobs, but how else can it affect you? I just need to be prepared.
I think the answer is dependent on your line of work. New guidelines arising from human rights concerns mean that minor convictions will not always be disclosed by the DBS if they are thought irrelevant to the requester. A conviction where the punishment is non-custodial is spent after 5 years AFAIK.

Again I suggest taking legal advice, from a lawyer rather than a few other people.
 

ANorthernGuard

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There are 4 types of passenger (imho)

Mr Average walks up, gets his ticket goes to his destination

Mr Commuter with his Season Ticket

Mr Shrewd who is very clever with Advance Tickets and splitting tickets to get the best deal (and sometimes confusing the hell out of us lowly guards without a computer as a brain)

And Mr fare Dodger who takes the p*ss out of all of the above who takes a chance to get out of paying and eventually gets caught and then cries that he is "terrified". Well tough I have zero sympathy as persons like yourself are one of the main reasons people get so fed up with the railway when they pay over the odds on some tickets you attempt to get away without paying. You deserve whatever punishment you get if it goes to court. YOU made the decision NOT to pay. Now YOU deserve whatever punishment you get and maybe that will make it finally it sink it that Fare evasion is wrong.

If someone has the guts to come up to me and say look i'm skint and I am trying to get home I will give them the benefit of the doubt (Once) but in your case may I suggest a different form of Transport.

Sorry for the rant but I get so fed up with people who knowingly break the law then whine when they realise they are in deep s.....
 
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I echo what others have said.

What you should do is write down everything you said on the day you got stopped while its still fresh in your head word for word as you stated you signed the officers book your story needs to match his notes.

Seek legal advice professionally from someone trained to deal with this sort of thing for your own sake

As has been mentioned if your on jobseekers allowance then get the job seeker oyster card if your in a london borough this entitles you to half price bus and tram fares if I remember correctly a weekly bus pass is £8.60

Its just a case of waiting for the letter to arrive but while doing that do the things people are telling you to do on here they are experts on here and know there stuff

Don't ignore any letters you recive as this will make it worse
 

yorkie

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I think the OP has had the appropriate advice, and I am not sure there's anything else we can add, as clearly legal advice should be sought in this situation.

This part of the forum is for giving people appropriate advice, and if anyone (understandably!) doesn't want to do that, please just don't post in such a thread. Thanks :)
 
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