Threatened with court

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by Olleh, 11 Aug 2011.

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  1. Olleh

    Olleh Member

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    Hi guys

    Just posting here for some advice. Before I continue; I'll be honest and make it clear - I did fare evade, but any knowledge on the matter or advice would be very grateful.

    About 6 months ago I was caught on a c2c train with a ticket with a YP Railcard discount. I was fined £20, as I do not have a Railcard, and paid it the same day. Today, I purchased a return from Chafford Hundred (CFH) to Stanford-le-Hope (SLO) on the c2c line. I applied a YP discount from a self service ticket machine, but I do not have a Railcard at all.

    Whilst on my return journey I was stopped by ticket inspectors on the train. I gave them all my details and failed to produce a Railcard. They checked through history and found out that I had done the same thing once before. I told them that I had left it at home, obviously I was lying. Instead of issuing me with a penalty fare, they told me that I would recieve a letter in the post to provide evidence of my Railcard, otherwise I will face the courts.

    Could someone please give me some advice - should I buy a Railcard today? (ie. Would it still be valid.. and worth it?) If it went to court, would they win, what are the fines like (rough price) and is there custodial charges? If I bought the Railcard today, in their defence could they say that I bought it after the fine was issued, making it invalid? (Although technically I wasn't fined, but they withdrew my ticket from me).

    I know what I did was wrong, but now I just need some advice on what to do - are there hefty fines, custodial charges etc.. do I have a leg to stand on, and would it be worth my while to buy a Railcard this evening?

    Many thanks

    Olleh
     
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  3. Mike395

    Mike395 Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Hi,

    I would not recommend buying a Railcard this evening, this would be attempting to defraud them further and would be very obvious - especially as you stated initially you left it at home!

    Someone more knowledgeable will be along shortly Im sure to let you know about the process from here on in :)

    Mike
     
  4. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    Were you interviewed under caution?
     
  5. island

    island Established Member

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    A Railcard displays the time as well as the date purchased, so trying to buy one now would only compound the issue further.

    Without wishing to offend, this is the most clear-cut case of intentional fare evasion I have ever read about. Having gotten away with just a penalty fare on a previous occasion, you once again chose to evade payment of the proper fare for your journey (for the sake of just £1.75!), and were caught.

    You will receive a letter soon asking either to produce your railcard (which you can't) or to provide a statement on the matter.

    The maximum penalty for a first offence under section 5 (3) (a) of the Regulation of Railways Act, 1889 (passenger travels on the railway without having previously paid his fare, with intent to avoid payment thereof) is a fine of £1,000. Only a second or subsequent court conviction can carry a prison sentence of up to three months. However, the offence is recordable and will show up on a criminal records check. In addition to the fine, you can expect to have to pay costs (in the order of £100), a victim surcharge of £15, and the fare for your journey of £5.10.

    Users have reported success in offering a sum of money in the order of £100-£200 in respect of administrative expenses and fare avoided in situations like this in the past, and your best hope at avoiding a criminal record is to send a grovelling letter to c2c when you receive their letter, including a payment towards or in excess of the top of that scale. If I were the prosecutions manager, however, I would refuse all settlement in light of the circumstances of the offence. But I'm not, so you may be lucky.

    Whatever happens, for goodness' sake buy the Railcard (it's only £28) or stop using the discount :(

    And finally, Stanford le Hope's code is SFO, not SLO.
     
  6. Olleh

    Olleh Member

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    He said a bit of a spiel after I wrote down my details and he said something about evidence later on in court if say anything and the ectera.
     
  7. Mike395

    Mike395 Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Yes, that's being interviewed under caution.

    I have to say, as you've intentionally fare evaded twice (and we know already c2c have both on record), the chances of not going to court are slim IMO - although island is right, you MAY be lucky if you write, and offering £100 or more to avoid a criminal record. :)
     
  8. First class

    First class Established Member

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    The worst that could happen is a custodial sentence, but I don't think it would go that far.

    Don't buy a railcard and then try and say you left it at home. The time and date of purchase is printed on it so it is a waste of time trying that defence.

    If c2c have a good prosecutor, you will be charged under the Regulation of Railways Act 1889, Sec 5(3a).

    An out of court settlement for this offence will cost you around £100-£200.
    If it goes to court: criminal record for fraud/dishonesty, fine around £250, costs around £50-100 and victim surcharge of £15.

    Wait for a letter in the post from c2c before proceeding.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 11 Aug 2011
  9. island

    island Established Member

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    Actually a custodial sentence is one thing that could not happen unless Olleh has previous convictions for S5(3) RRA 1889.
     
  10. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    I agree with the previous 2 posts.
    There will almost definitely be a letter informing you of their intention to prosecute - but do let us know when that arrives and tell us if it is the Section 5.3 offence (which I agree seems the most likely).

    It is true that many passengers found without the correct ticket do send a reply at that point : a mixture of an apology, a promise never to do it again and an explanation of the sad circumstances which led them doing such a stupid thing which they'd never done before. Sometimes the prosecution is dropped at that point, or more likely a settlement (between £80 and £300) is agreed. Apparently in this case, that sort of letter is just not going to be believed.

    I expect that they will continue with the prosecution, and are highly likely to succeed, though the fine is unlikely to be more than £200-400 plus their costs (£100+) plus victim surcharge (ca £20). You might escape prosecution with a good solicitor in Court to argue, but they are likely to charge you £2000 upwards and I'm doubtful that will be money well spent.

    The best news I can offer you is that even the most straightforward case such as this can still be settled out of court, purely on the grounds of cost effectiveness to the Company. If you wait for the letter and then write to expain that you don't want to waste any more of their time or the Court's time and want to make amends to them, a settlement is often accepted (Its not like a Police matter where "the public interest" has to be considered - this is "the railway's interest" we're dealing with, and that's all about value for money).

    The other (slim) prospect of good news is that there might just be some irregularity / error / technicality which makes your interview and therefore your statement inadmissable. Don't get too hopeful about this, but it is something to look for when the letter and its bundle of evidence arrives in the post.

    [By the way, I'm grateful to you for being so frank about the matter; some people even try to covince themselves that they haven't done what they had and it can be hard to help when the facts aren't forthcoming!]
     
    Last edited: 11 Aug 2011
  11. Solent&Wessex

    Solent&Wessex Established Member

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    Just as a matter of interest I am looking at a recent set of court results for the TOC I work for. The cases are all at the same Magistrates Court and out of court settlements are shown as well.

    Out of Court Settlements range from £55 to £200, although most are between £65 and £100. The amount doesn't seem to vary on the fare avoided, but asking around it seems to vary on the nature of the case and the amount of time spent until the OCS was agreed. I'm told an OCS is accepted only for first offences.

    For those persons found Guilty the fine varies. The few that pleaded guilty generally got lower fines, generally around £100.

    For those that were found Guilty via Section 9 (i.e. witness statements) then the fines varied from £350 to £600.

    The costs for those that went to court were all £130.
     
  12. Olleh

    Olleh Member

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    Thanks for all your help so far guys. It is much appreciated.

    What do you think the chance of success is with an appeal/apology letter to c2c? And how much do you think I should offer? And what should the letter say? Should I enclose a cheque with the appeal, or wait for a response.

    As this would be the first time in court, would I be prosecuted? Seems to be some confusion on this.
     
  13. island

    island Established Member

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    In my opinion, the chance of success with an appeal to c2c is nil. The chance of an apology/settlement is low but non-zero. I would be suggesting in the region of £200. Some others will help you to draft the letter.

    If you end up in court, you will have been prosecuted, so I'm not sure what you mean by your last sentence. Prosecution means you are summonsed to court to answer for your alleged crime.
     
  14. Olleh

    Olleh Member

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    What makes you say that? Because of this case specifically or do c2c not tend to accept settlements? Is c2c your employer, haha? With the last sentence, I meant a custodial sentence. My apologies.



     
  15. richw

    richw Established Member

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    i think what hes confused about is the first offence bit,
    he's previously just received A £20 penalty fare, so is confused as to whether that counts as a first offence?
     
  16. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Wait for the letter from them and come back here telling us what it says - we'd want to understand as much as poss from that - it may just ask you to make another statement or it may even be a Summons enclosing the Witness Statement of the person who interviewd you.

    I am not convinced an appeal/apology will be very effective (I hope I made my reasons clear above) but still believe that a settlement may be achieveable (reasons also above) - but we really do need to know what they're accusing you of and what their evidence looks like.
    Where's the confusion?
    If you go to Court then you're being Prosecuted - that's what the Summons will say.

    Or perhaps you are confusing the terms 'prosecute' and 'convict'?
    A person is 'prosecuted' in Court where they will either plead Guilty or Not Guilty. When they plead Guilty they will then be 'Convicted' of the Offence and given a Fine or other Sentence. When they plead Not guilty, then the Court must listen to the evidence so that the Magistrates can decide whether the person is Guilty or Not - and then, if 'Guilty' then they are 'convicted' and given the Fine or other Sentence, and if Not guilty then they walk away from it all.

    Other people ask if their Conviction for a Railway Offence will appear on the Police National Computer (PNC) or result in a Criminal Record. This too will depend on exactly which Offence they choose to accuse you of which is another reason for waiting for their letter. My guess (and others on here) was that it will be the S.5 offence which will lead to a Criminal Record if it reaches a 'Conviction'; it will probably then appear on the PNC (but neither of these apply if an out-of-court settlement is agreed beforehand!).
     
    Last edited: 11 Aug 2011
  17. Olleh

    Olleh Member

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    Sorry for double post I am posting on my phone. And because for the same reason anyone intentionally fare evades, it's cheaper and they think they're invincible and won't get caught.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Nailed it. This is what I meant!
     
  18. island

    island Established Member

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    No, I am not employed in the railway industry. The basis for my suggestion of the low chance of settlement is the facts and matters that you've posted so far, i.e. that you intentionally evaded paying your proper fare, and have history of doing so. I have no knowledge of National Express's tendency to accept settlements.
    The £20 penalty fare does not count as a previous offence.
     
  19. MikeWh

    MikeWh Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    But it does record the fact that you had previously been told that what you've just done again was wrong. I'll reiterate what Dave has said that it is to your credit that you are being up-front and honest. The exact advice as to what to do next can only be given when you have received the letter in the post.

    Also, be in no doubt. If you do manage to avoid a conviction by getting an out-of-court settlement this time, it will absolutely be your last chance. Do it again and the best lawyers in the land won't save you.
     
  20. 185

    185 Established Member

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    I'm struggling to believe this. Is the OP an RPI?
     
  21. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

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    What happens if letters from TOCs or court get lost in the post?
     
  22. Olleh

    Olleh Member

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    Um, im not sure what an RPI is! I'm an 18 year old student!
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I'm 18 and hardly ever use the train so I didn't see the point in buying one!
     
  23. Statto

    Statto Established Member

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    The fact that the op has done the same offence again[& got caught again] beggars belief. Imo the TOC should take the op to court rather than an out of court settlement. The op even knows himself he shouldn't be traviling on Railcard discounted tickets without a Railcard, so he should get the full punishment thown at him.:mad:
     
  24. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    Can we please stop criticising the OP?

    His original post was quite frank and contrite. I don't like or condone what he's done any more than anyone else, as the railway industry is where I earn a living. But at least he's been honest and is sensible enough to look for advice.

    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. ;)
     
  25. Minilad

    Minilad Established Member

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    The point in buying one is that you are then entitled to the discount.
    If you don't buy one you are not
    Quite simple really
     
  26. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    You can get them as cheap as £20 if you buy them online and have a discount code (which come around quite often). £20! ONE bank note! Buy a £60 ticket (non-discounted) and you've reclaimed the price of your Railcard. :D

    Surely you spend at least £60 a year on train fares? Simple maths... :)

    EDIT: £20 would also be identical to your original "fine." So why risk another £20 fine when you can get a Railcard for that price? :) OK I appreciate that it's useless advice now, but still...
     
  27. Olleh

    Olleh Member

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    The reason I buy discounted tickets is because there is no point buying a child - the gates are usually set to not open and I look very old for my age - usually pass for 20+, let alone 15. Plus, I don't want to be jumping over fences and running through bushes. The ticket doesn't make a sound when you put it in the gate unlike child ones, so any inspectors wouldn't know. There are rarely any ticket inspections on the actual train, but the two times I've seen them, I've been caught. I'm trying to be as honest as I can here because I'm asking for your advice and help!
     
  28. Minilad

    Minilad Established Member

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    Pity your honesty doesn't include buying the correct ticket
     
  29. Olleh

    Olleh Member

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    Ooh no, you're getting the wrong end of the stick! I'm eighteen, but someone asked why buy a discounted ticket if I knew I wasnt eligible for
    the discount - I say, no point getting a child (would get found out easily.. look incredibly old), and no point trying to jump over the barriers/fences so a Railcard discount ticket makes sense! (Well, it doesn't anymore but you know what I mean...)
     
  30. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    At the risk of moving off-topic, I want to reply to these quotes for the benefit of others who might be following this thread to assist with understanding their own options with some facts.

    I have to contradict these 2 assertions about lawyers.
    1. Most would discourage sending a payment with a letter, knowing that the payment could be construed as an admission of an offence which they, the lawyer, might otherwise be able to challenge (whether on evidential grounds, a technicality, or application of case law). In fact some specialising in assisting Railway staff specifically advise against sending or offering payment. Could you please let me know (by confidential PM if you wish) which Law Firm(s) have done this?
    2. I have a record of returned cheques, returned to the accused after the TOC had received them with a letter offering settlement.

    I'll repeat, this post does not alter my advice to the OP.

    Re: "RPI". We can be sure that the OP is not an RPI. (A 'Revenue Protection Officer' working for a Railway Operating Company, often referred to as Ticket Inspectors)

    Re: the sense in a passenger travelling without a valid ticket. There have been some harsh views, however, the practice of "Ticket Roulette" in which a passenger (or other persons such as a motor car driver parking without a ticket, a TV owner not posessing a Licence, a Construction Company not complying with all Regulations, a music lover dowloading music without paying royalties, etc, etc,) takes a guess on the probabilities and costs of compliance against the probabi8lities and costs of being detected and penalised and weights up the odds. Its very widely practiced and very well known.
    We don't help anyone by assuming that consumers and law enforcers are not well versed in the odds of Roulette.

    @AllLineRover. I wonder if some of your posts are your old habit of posting the first thing that pops into your head without any research? The legal liability of minors is defined in law, and defined very precisely - it is not a variable which you 'think'. Just today one case was abandoned precisely because of that age threshold. Its black and white, so please don't confuse the OP.
     
    Last edited: 11 Aug 2011
  31. Olleh

    Olleh Member

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    I've ended up being so lost with everyone's comments and suggestions and the such, could you be so kind to
    summarise your advice/what I should do next? Thanks.
     
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