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Maursh

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Everything posted by Maursh

  1. You mean of the circumstances of why they attempted to prosecute me for fare evasion? I have outlined the details below, although if you are concerned about them coming after you, I wouldn't be. They might if you were a repeat offender (if you had been caught 10 times for example) but the prosecutions don't appear to be originating from the BTP but from private prosecutions. Although, having said this, the tfl is not a private operator so the policies might differ slightly. I was travelling regularly on a 5mins commuter route on the DLR where I would buy a ticket each way for £1 at a machine since a travelcard was unavailable for that route/zones. A blockade had been set up at the station where I disembarked complete with BTP. I was unable to find my ticket for that journey, although I had a handbag full of tickets for journeys on previous days and weeks so it took me some time to identify that I couldn't find the ticket, getting more and more flustered. They took details, ID read me my rights etc. That happened in September. I received a letter from them in November asking for mitigating circumstances before they forwarded my details to the prosecution team. I duly responded explaining that I had bought a ticket but had lost it, and that I could evidence that I was a regular user of that route who always bought a ticket (I had about a months worth of them in my handbag). I didn't hear anything further until April when I received a court summons a day after the date of the hearing. I immediately called the court and asked what had happened given that I hadn't even been aware of the summons. They said that it would be rearranged since they hadn't heard from me (automatic guilty if I missed the next one). I then sought legal advice. I spoke to a few solicitors who were completely disinterested and said that there was no defence and that I would be better sending in a guilty plea by post. I didn't want to do that since I was totally innocent, my career might be impaired by such a record and furthermore I thought that it was a completely disproportionate "punishment" for a £1 fare issue with someone who had no previous history of fare dodging. Anyway, I sought advice from a corporate lawyer friend of mine. He spoke to a few friends and learnt that a similar thing had happened to the wife of one of his colleagues. Her circumstances were slightly different in that she hadn't been able to buy a ticket before she boarded, had tried to find the guard on board but had a child in a pushchair and had been unsuccessful. Anyway both she and her husband were lawyers (barristers I think); they put their thinking caps on and wrote to the prosecution team saying that they were aware that they had to prove guilty mind, that she would be entering a not guilty plea and this was the defence that they would be offering (i think it was just as I wrote above, unable to buy ticket, tried to find guard on board but limited by young child and pushchair). They dropped their case against her. I did something very similar: explained that I would be entering a not guilty plea, that my defence would be that I had bought a ticket but misplaced it and asked for them to provide CCTV footage of a 15 minute interval of the exact machine where I had bought the ticket. I hadn't heard back from them and turned up for court for the second hearing. I was greated by some guy on the prosecution after I checked in with the clerk that they would drop the case if I agreed to pay a £10 admin fee, which of course I agreed to.
  2. Hi Charlie7111, I am not a legal person at all, just someone who was in the same situation, so any "advice" I hand out comes with a big disclaimer. When you are in court on Monday, try and see the legal bod (duty solicitor or whoever), but I think that you might be able to ask for an adjornment, explaining that you have taken it under advisement to change your plea given that you had no intent and that you need time to put your defence together and that no doubt the prosecution team need the same. I would say this is the best thing to do because it will give you an opportunity to get "lawyered up" if it is still required. But moreover, it gives the prosecution team a chance to realise that you are not a 10minute job and to actually review your case and circumstances. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't elect to drop your case entirely and that you don't have to go back to court at all. Unfortunately, if they do not, I think that you will have to get a solicitor on board which won't be cheap. If you really can't afford it then perhaps a friend or parent will represent you... I think that it's easier than doing it yourself anyway. Incidentally, not knowing how much you had on your own oyster card, is definately not "mens rea". Good luck. Let us know how you get on.
  3. I have made a big long post under the transport / trains sections on this yesterday, so do look under "Re: Cautioned for not having Train ticket" for my experience particuarly on penalty fares. With respect to prosections, whatever you do, don't just enter a guilty plea and send a cheque by post. This is what they want, it is easy revenue for them and you suffer in the long run. On the other hand, if you plead not guilty, show up in court, you make it difficult, you won't be worse off and I think there is a good chance to win. My understanding is that the prosecution are obligated to show "mens rea" - guilty mind. Basically, they have to prove that you had intent and this is surprisingly difficult. Ahead of the hearing write to them explaining that you understand that they have to show mens rea, that you intend to enter a not guilty plea and your personal circumstances (eg picked up mums bag, walked off with boyfriend oyster,was harassed by over zealous burly male RPI into confessing to something you didn't do etc). This constitutes your defence. Some legally able bod on here might be able to confirm or refute this, but I recall that if you show them your hand, they must show you theirs, ie they must show you their evidence against you if you declare your defence. In my circumstances, they simply dropped the case, but it was last minute - they waited to see if I would turnup for the court hearing. If you do go to court, I think that you can enter your letter as defence and simply let the prosecution do their worst. Obviously it is better to employ a solicitor or better yet a barrister, for the case, but I had trouble getting any solicitors to take my case seriously (£1 ticket). The point is, do what you can and don't lie down and let them walk all over you. On another note, perhaps someone could advise on the fare evasion offence appearing on an enhanced check at the CRB. I was under the impression that this was an unrecordable. Is someone able to clarify what this means exactly and also exactly what sort of information is held as local police data?
  4. For a dishonesty crime, the prosecution needs to prove "mens rea" - guilty mind. If you are right, and they no longer need to prove intent to gain a successful prosecution for fare evasion then it can not be regarded as a dishonesty crime.
  5. If you elect to plead "not guilty", then you don't have to offer any defence but I believe the procesution has to prove "mens rea" - guilty mind. I suspect this is very difficult to show unless you incriminate yourself in some way but they may be very adept at it these days if a lot of people have successfully fought the case.
  6. Hi there, I was looking at this thread with some fascination since some 5 years ago, I was stopped by a "revenue inspector" without a ticket. I won't bore you with the details of the whys and wherefores, but I was issued with a court summons off the back of this. I learnt some very interesting facts about this process which I would like to share which with you, although I appreciate that it might be too late for some: 1) firstly, prosecution for fare evasion is independent of a penalty fare. If you look at some train companies websites they will fully admit that penalty fares are there to boost their revenues. This means that if you pay a penalty, the rail company can still seek a criminal prosecution if they believe you are guilty of fare evasion; 2) a penalty fare, by a private rail company is a CIVIL DEBT. If the rail company threatens you with a criminal prosecution if you do not settle a civil debt (verbally if you have a witness or in writing) the rail operator could be accused of "obtaining property by threats" which is a criminal offence under the 1968 Theft Act. You can refuse to pay a penalty fare and all the operator can do is come after you for the cival debt, but cannot prosecute. If you plan to refuse verbally make sure that you have a witness to show that you were invited to pay a penalty and you refused. 3) if you were in the unfortunate position that I was in, in that you are facing prosecution, the prosecution must prove "mens rea" - guilty mind. That is, they must prove that you willfully, deceitfully and intentionally set out to defraud the railway. This is extremely hard to prove in most circumstances - so if you are ever at risk, do not do anything that might be regarded as incriminating. In HM courts, they need to prove your guilt, you do not need to prove your innocence. 4) fare evasion is a railway by-law so it is not an arrestable (nor I believe recordable) offence. However, it is an arrestable offence to refuse to give your name and address (or to give false information). If you do find yourself under caution (and RPI must caution you) then I recommend giving your name and address and nothing else. You will also be asked to sign something - I believe that you can refuse without recourse. For whomever was asking about the CRB check: if you are successfully prosecuted then you will have a criminal record for a dishonesty crime which will obviously show up. If you don't yet know if they will prosecute (the court summons took 7 months to come through for me) I don't believe that it will appear, since it is a non-recordable offence. However, pending prosecutions usually do appear, so I am not certain about this. Incidentally when the private prosecution company (oh yes, the CPS are really not interested in this sort of petty misdemeanor) realised that I was fighting this all the way, they dropped the prosecution - they just want easy targets to boost their statistics. As a final note, I want to be clear that I am not encouraging fare evasion, I believe that it is a fairly serious measure of social disorder. But I was an innocent commuter who was facing a disproportionate reaction with serious personal consequences from an over-zealous train company. Their website proudly boasts how many successful prosecutions they had achieved but they don't seem to realise is all they are doing is slapping criminal records on law-abidding citizens who are doing their best to get through each day. The real fare evaders, the repeat offenders who assault RPIs and blatantly ignore penalty fare notices etc, I assume are still at large.
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