Train Fine - Straight to Court

some bloke

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It may or may not make a difference to your decisions, but according to what you have said, you were clearly not guilty of the offence of boarding without a valid ticket. The problem is that you have told the court you did so.

The number the OP rang should have made it clear he would need to appeal in writing after all
There might be some value in the idea that he was misled during the phone call, but it shouldn't be overstated. If the staff member gave him the required written information, the company has stuck to the regulations in that respect. It wouldn't be a requirement for the person on the phone to inform him a second time. And it doesn't have a direct bearing on the fact that he chose to plead guilty.
 
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221129

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My instinct also is that the full sum needs paying ASAP. However, then maybe this could be pursued

"I knew it was 50/50 so I called the number on the penalty fare ticket the next day where the adviser said they would send me a letter, she took my name and address and phone number. I completely forgot about the situation and heard nothing from anyone. "

Since the rest of the chain of events seems to flow from the failure to receive said letter (possibly a form to make a written appeal on and comply with penalty fare regs?) - whilst the OP would have been wise to study the regs at that time, it is not unreasonable for a £2.50 fare and £20 fine which the OP had resigned themselves to paying you may well not do so - so the failure to receive the response to that call is critical.

What is the likelihood of the organisation that the OP rang providing a record of any such call? Would a recording still survive (given that ticketing prosecution issues may take time to come to court you might assume it would do)?

If that provided evidence that the OP had been failed in some way it may be possible to get recompense for the fine from parties involved as a 'good will' gesture or Transport Focus may be open to being persuaded to look again at the case with regard to this aspect of it (the appeal ref the penalty fare)?

The number the OP rang should have made it clear he would need to appeal in writing after all, yet the OP does not write as if he had been given any information to that effect.
In the legal sense, this is all completely irrelevant.
 

tspaul26

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In the legal sense, this is all completely irrelevant.
Exactly.

The OP must decide what he wants to achieve on a practical level so that we can advise on the most appropriate strategy to seek to achieve it.

For example, if he just wants everything to go away then the best option will be different compared to whether he wants to try to be rid of the criminal conviction.
 
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I know the events are all circumstantial. I wasn't expecting anything special, the guy issuing the fines said I had fair grounds to appeal, so I did.

What I want is to just pay the original £20 fine. More than happy to do so. I admit that I didn't have my ticket on leaving the station and that's that. No issues with the fine. I appealed the next day, they read me the garb and said they would contact me. No one did.

But the court fines read like I have just dodged the payments. This isn't the case.

I want the court element of all this to be dropped and to pay the fine issued by the train company in the first instance
 

tspaul26

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I know the events are all circumstantial. I wasn't expecting anything special, the guy issuing the fines said I had fair grounds to appeal, so I did.

What I want is to just pay the original £20 fine. More than happy to do so. I admit that I didn't have my ticket on leaving the station and that's that. No issues with the fine. I appealed the next day, they read me the garb and said they would contact me. No one did.

But the court fines read like I have just dodged the payments. This isn't the case.

I want the court element of all this to be dropped and to pay the fine issued by the train company in the first instance
I have to pop out. I will post a longer reply later.
 

Enthusiast

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Right then, that looks like you have been fined in accordance with a guilty plea and no financial information known about you (this assumes an income of £440pw). This would be half a week's income (£220) reduced by a third for your guilty plea.

As noted, you are out of time for an appeal to a higher court and you are unlikely to be given permission to launch a late appeal. That said, you could only appeal against the sentence anyway as you pleaded guilty, and that would only be worthwhile if your income is below £440pw. I believe your only avenue of approach would be to have the matter re-opened under S142 of the Magistrates' Court Act. This says:

A magistrates’ court may vary or rescind a sentence or other order imposed or made by it when dealing with an offender if it appears to the court to be in the interests of justice to do so

You should request this in the basis that (presumably) you were not given the opportunity to provide details of your means and you would like the matter revisited. One other thing worth noting is that I believe (though am not 100% sure - I'll try to look it up) that the "Victim Surcharge" is not applicable where a conviction under a railway bylaw has been recorded. If that turns out to be true then that's at least £32 you should have knocked off.

One thing you must now bear in mind - a court has recorded a conviction against you and only a court can set that conviction aside or make any amendments to the fines and costs imposed. Whilst it might help to engage with the railway company (see below) the matter is now entirely outside their control. Even if they now decide that they should not normally have taken court action against you, they did and that action has seen you convicted. This is what I believe you should now do:

1. Contact the Justices' Clerk at Nottingham Magistrates' Court and make a request to have your case re-opened under S142. The grounds would be the level of fine (because you did not provide details of your means) and possibly the Victim Surcharge (I'll try to find out the answer). You will probably have to appear in court to do this (though different arrangements may be in place due to Covid) and you should be given a hearing date. Beware with this. These matters are usually handled by non-legally trained people. You may well get the reply "you pleaded guilty so the case cannot be re-opened". That is incorrect and you must be prepared to stand your ground if you receive such a reply.

2. Contact the fines office at the same court and let them know you are making the above request. They should agree to postpone any enforcement action until the outcome is known. This is important. If you don't do it you may have bailiffs knocking on your door.

3. In the meantime you can contact the rail company as suggested. As I said, they have no control over the court conviction but you may get some information from them that might lead the court to take a different view. The court actually has the power to set the conviction aside but this is a big ask and it will depend entirely on what you find out from the railway company.

Finally:

What I want is to just pay the original £20 fine. More than happy to do so. I admit that I didn't have my ticket on leaving the station and that's that. No issues with the fine. I appealed the next day, they read me the garb and said they would contact me. No one did.

I want the court element of all this to be dropped and to pay the fine issued by the train company in the first instance
Do not get overly hopeful of that outcome
 
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tspaul26

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Right then, that looks like you have been fined in accordance with a guilty plea and no financial information known about you (this assumes an income of £440pw). This would be half a week's income (£220) reduced by a third for your guilty plea.

As noted, you are out of time for an appeal to a higher court and you are unlikely to be given permission to launch a late appeal. That said, you could only appeal against the sentence anyway as you pleaded guilty, and that would only be worthwhile if your income is below £440pw. I believe your only avenue of approach would be to have the matter re-opened under S142 of the Magistrates' Court Act. This says:

A magistrates’ court may vary or rescind a sentence or other order imposed or made by it when dealing with an offender if it appears to the court to be in the interests of justice to do so

You should request this in the basis that (presumably) you were not given the opportunity to provide details of your means and you would like the matter revisited. One other thing worth noting is that I believe (though am not 100% sure - I'll try to look it up) that the "Victim Surcharge" is not applicable where a conviction under a railway bylaw has been recorded. If that turns out to be true then that's at least £32 you should have knocked off.

One thing you must now bear in mind - a court has recorded a conviction against you and only a court can set that conviction aside or make any amendments to the fines and costs imposed. Whilst it might help to engage with the railway company (see below) the matter is now entirely outside their control. Even if they now decide that they should not normally have taken court action against you, they did and that action has seen you convicted. This is what I believe you should now do:

1. Contact the Justices' Clerk at Nottingham Magistrates' Court and make a request to have your case re-opened under S142. The grounds would be the level of fine (because you did not provide details of your means) and possibly the Victim Surcharge (I'll try to find out the answer). You will have to appear in court to do this and you should be given a hearing date. Beware with this. These matters are usually handled by non-legally trained people. You may well get the reply "you pleaded guilty so the case cannot be re-opened". That is incorrect and you must be prepared to stand your ground if you receive such a reply.

2. Contact the fines office at the same court and let them know you are making the above request. They should agree to postpone any enforcement action until the outcome is known. This is important. If you don't do it you may have bailiffs knocking on your door.

3. In the meantime you can contact the rail company as suggested. As I said, they have no control over the court conviction but you may get some information from them that might lead the court to take a different view. The court actually has the power to set the conviction aside but this is a big ask and it will depend entirely on what you find out from the railway company.

Finally:


Do not get overly hopeful of that outcome
Beaten me to it.

One further avenue to try to get the conviction wiped is the s142 route, but reaching an agreement with the prosecutor that if the conviction is set aside they will then discontinue the prosecution.

This will likely require you to pay far more than £20 though.

In summary, there is no cheap solution here.
 
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Thank you massively for this. I have already contacted notts magistrates and they have pushed the hearing date to September following my appeal. I have also asked them for the first letter they sent so I can have another look through it.

I have put an appeal in to the penalty office explaining all this.

I absolutely can't believe it's got this far so quickly. I feel like I've been sucker punched. This is nothing more than an administrative cock up that's now branded me a criminal.
 

tspaul26

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Just been through the previous correspondence.

The case has been reopened and the hearing is in September.
If you could provide a copy of this (redacted like the one you have already uploaded) then we can check precisely what has been re-opened and advise accordingly.
 

tspaul26

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If you still have a copy of the original summons and any witness statements, &c. then that would also be very useful.
 

WesternLancer

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This will need to wait I think.

The most pressing matter is how to deal with the conviction and sentence. Unless this is paid in full ASAP then the OP will need to decide whether he wishes to expend time, effort and money seeking to re-open the court proceedings which could well make no difference to the ultimate outcome.

This requires immediate decisions as any further delay could well prejudice the chances of success in this regard even further.
I agree with that.
 

WesternLancer

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Just been through the previous correspondence.

The case has been reopened and the hearing is in September.
Do you have access to any source of legal advice, eg via a trade union, student union, insurance policy etc - this may help you with the advice others are helpfully suggesting.
 

Enthusiast

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I absolutely can't believe it's got this far so quickly. I feel like I've been sucker punched. This is nothing more than an administrative cock up that's now branded me a criminal.
You need to be careful with that approach. Particularly in view of this:

I completely forgot about the situation and heard nothing from anyone.
It is incumbent on anybody in your position where facing court action is a likelihood, to be pro-active. It's no good shoving the papers in the back of a drawer somewhere and putting it to the back of your mind. They have a habit of coming back to bite you (as you've discovered). You said that nobody sent you anything. You don't know that. You only know that you did not receive whatever it was. When you do have your matter re-heard do not approach it in this frame of mind. You don't know what went wrong or whose fault it was. You need to be contrite to get the best outcome.

I have already contacted notts magistrates and they have pushed the hearing date to September following my appeal.
You need to be careful with your terminology to avoid confusion. You are not launching an appeal. You are asking to have your matter re-opened. It's different. You also need to look at your paperwork to ensure the court has already agreed to re-open your case and not simply given you a hearing date for your request to be considered. Re-opening under S142 is a judicial decision which must be taken by the court, not by support staff (including the Justices' Clerk).
 

Fawkes Cat

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I hope the OP will forgive me slightly hijacking the thread, but people in trouble tend to read these threads. So can I note some lessons that anyone in a similar position might want to bear in mind? I hope it's obvious, but this isn't criticism of the OP - just some lessons that other people might want to learn from their difficulties.

1) Don't assume that the railway will just go away if you are in trouble with them - they are used to people ignoring them so will escalate matters if you don't keep in touch. Make sure they have your right address: keep an eye out for incoming post. If you change address, pay the Royal Mail for postal redirection. If you were expecting to hear from the railway but they haven't been in touch, get in touch with them (although be careful with this: they do take weeks or even months to get back to you, so phoning them up a couple of days after the initial incident is unlikely to help either them or you).
2) Whenever possible, communicate in writing. Some things (such as appeals) have to be in writing by law, and it's also much easier to be certain what something written means rather than relying on the memory of a phone call. Maybe follow up a phone call with an email - 'I understand from our phone call that the position is...'
3) Don't say anything you don't mean. If you plead guilty just to finish things off quickly, it will be difficult to explain later why you now don't think that you are guilty.
 
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Don't assume that the railway will just go away if you are in trouble with them
That's the thing, I didn't there has been nothing to ignore. I appealled, as I was advised to. I don't know what to expect from there other than a phone call or a letter through the post.

Do you have access to any source of legal advice, eg via a trade union, student union, insurance policy etc - this may help you with the advice others are helpfully suggesting.
Unfortunately no.
If you plead guilty just to finish things off quickly, it will be difficult to explain later why you now don't think that you are guilty.
I plead guilty because of the unbelievably short lead times I had. Every appeal was '2 to 3 weeks' and I was given 10 days to send the paperwork back.

I think based on everything here it's pointless to carry on. Its actually affecting my health. I'm just going to pay the fine. Hopefully the train appeals will come through but I think the messages so far suggest its very unlikely.

Just let it be a lesson to others. Keep your tickets and receipts and emails, you never know....
 

tspaul26

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I should say thank you to everyone who posted.

Its good to know there's a knowledgeable community out there I can direct others to
For what it’s worth, if the existence of a low-level criminal conviction will not cause you massive problems, paying up ASAP is the easiest way to draw a line under this and move on.

For anyone else caught up in a similar situation who may read this thread, I would strongly advise you to seek qualified legal advice on your options before returning court papers (although so be sure not to miss response deadlines).

As others have said: do not put things off; deal with things in writing where you can; keep copies; and, if in doubt, obtain professional advice from someone qualified to give it.
 
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The second letter from the magistrates included the £180 court fees. £330 in total. As I am appealing, the guilty plea and court date has been suspended until September.
I hope this helps

OP - what do you mean by the bit highlighted in bold? What has been suspended until September and how do you know this? The second "letter" you got seems to be confirming your conviction.

How do you appeal a conviction when you plead guilty to the charge(s)?

You posted the above at 21:55 yesterday.
 
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SargeNpton

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" On exiting the train I emptied my pockets of rubbish and the ticket into the little bin by the door and went to leave the station. "

Could you not have gone back to the litter bin to retrieve the ticket?
 

WesternLancer

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" On exiting the train I emptied my pockets of rubbish and the ticket into the little bin by the door and went to leave the station. "

Could you not have gone back to the litter bin to retrieve the ticket?
Think OP means bin on the train, by the train exit door - the bin would have gone off to the next station.

Given the amount of tickets I see left on a train as litter the risk of this happening to some people is probably quite high!
 

najaB

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Could you not have gone back to the litter bin to retrieve the ticket?
Think OP means bin on the train, by the train exit door - the bin would have gone off to the next station.
In any case, the OP would have failed to show his ticket when requested. If I pick up a ticket from a bin at a station, there's a more than 50% chance that it will be a ticket to that station, valid on that day (if the station is busy enough to have bins emptied daily), so an RPI is unlikely to let someone go look through the bin for 'their' ticket.
 

island

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I should say thank you to everyone who posted.

Its good to know there's a knowledgeable community out there I can direct others to
We try our best.

I’m sorry to see things have got to this stage but I do agree with the advice you’ve been given that this has progressed too far for there to be many options. Remember to keep the receipt when you pay the fine, and you now have a criminal conviction which I recommend you declare if asked for one year from the court date, after which it becomes spent and can for most purposes be forgotten about. (Technically, this is a non-recordable offence that some on the forum hold the view need not be declared at all. There is plenty of debate on this found by a search on the forum, if you wish to review what’s been said in the past.)

For others finding themselves in the same circumstances, it’s worth keeping track of appeals lodged, as paperwork has been known to go astray. And pleading guilty to a criminal charges means what it says – it means you accept everything you are being charged with is true and accept that you will receive a criminal conviction.
 

yorkie

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In order to keep dispute threads concise, it is best that any discussion that isn't directly related to the dispute in hand takes place in a separate thread.

I have therefore moved some posts into the following thread:


The discussion I have split off is very interesting and well worthy of a thread in its own right.

Also a big thank you to everyone who provides excellent advice on this forum :)
 

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