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  1. They 'face the same potential penalty' but I would imagine that a Court will see the difference between avoiding part of the fare or intending to avoid the whole fare.
  2. I don't think it is rude to inform you to write. It is correct. Why one case goes to Court and another does not is not important, the issue is what to do now that you have a summons. What we will want to know is what 'act and section' is being used. That will make a difference to our collective suggestions.
  3. I think that everyone involved in 'rail fare evasion' cases, prosecutors, potential defendants and the rest, need to keep perspective. Over the years, I have read a lot of 'evidence', seen many photographs, listened to many 'victims' and offenders. In my experiences, fare dodging is at the bottom end of 'villainy'. One of my heros is a man called Hartley Shawcross, I have a picture of him on the wall of my office, and one or two of his quotations on the office notice board. Whenever I think that I have read the worst 'story' ever, I compare it with the evidence that he was obliged to read, and present. The aggrieved that he represented all paid their rail fares, the funds were appropriated, and passed through the SS to the various railways that transported them towards Poland. If in the scale of 1 to 10, genocide is 10, bunking a train fare in England in 2011 barely flicks the meter of measurement. Ok, so there are consequences to all offending, but very slight, the convicted fare dodger will end up being fined, and as long as his name is not linked with football or his sister in law, it will not be spread across the pages of our gutter press. You do need to face the consequences, but the 'worst' is far less painful than most events in life.
  4. As for 'an hour' taking details, I am a pedantic old chap. Many people I speak with tell me that they were held for 'hours'. The questions 'have you got a ticket' and 'what is your name and address' ought to be completed in less than 10 minutes. I have on many occasions accurately timed 'incidents', very easy if CCTV is available, or the matter was recorded, and very often both witnesses and alleged offenders are wildly wrong with their 'time estimates'. 'An hour' suggests the thought that the incident developed into rather more than a 'no valid ticket' chat.
  5. Codja and I would like to know what station you got on at to start your journey home, on the 'morning after'. If the ticket office was shut, and if the machines were not working, there may be a defence. If there is a defence, then you can tell FCC to 'go away'. Before you do, you would need to know if the ticket machines were working. FCC may very well settle for a payment equal to their costs and the unpaid fare. It saves them work, and gives them a 'result'. I must say, I am interested in how they calculate their costs, Essex Magistrates would be a tad sniffy about '£130.00', they only grant our local lines £65.00 for a simple Byelaw offence, and 'only' £110.00 for the more labour intensive 'Sec 5 RRA' offence. There is a clear 'instruction' that costs should not be 'punitive'.
  6. If I have followed this correctly, the matter is at the stage when FCC are 'thinking about it', and as such 'criminal record' thoughts may be premature. However, you ask some straight questions, which deserve straight answers. The one thing that you will learn with 'regulation' is that there are more twists and turns in a straight answer than the route taken by an old sow back to the sty after eating fermenting apples. Railway Byelaw offence convictions are not recorded on the criminal record. Offences charged (and proved) under section 5 of the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 are 'recordable'. Offences proved in a criminal Court, Magistrates or Crown, are 'convictions' which may have to be declared. They are noted in 'public records', that is to say, the Courts keep a record of the finding and sentence. Prosecuting authorities, including organisations like FCC, will keep their own records, and may cite a conviction in future hearings. Unless the case has 'reporting restrictions', generally to protect the identity of a child, the case result may be published. Many local papers do send reporters to Court.
  7. Magistrates do have sentencing guidelines for this type of offence. How the 'guidelines' are applied is a matter for a Court on the day, but generally, for a byelaw offence, the Bench will start thinking in the region of a fine of £175.00. A 'guilty plea at first opportunity' will reduce fines, good mitigation will reduce them further, and 'low income' further still. Aggravating features will increase fines. They would be things like 'behaviour', did you call the Inspector things that would annoy him, or were you 'unpleasant'? Previous convictions will potentially increase fines, and (if the offence is one of intending to avoid fares) start to mke the Court think about 'alternative sentences', which can include 'custody' or 'community punishment', which is the posh way of saying 'unpaid work'. In addition to any fine, there will be a claim for costs, a claim for the 'unpaid fare' and a 'victim surcharge' of £15.00.
  8. There are two sets of issues which you need to concentrate on. Is there a 'defence'? If you travelled on 'the first train', were there facilities at the station where you boarded to obtain a ticket? Was the ticket office open, or were there self service machines that were working? The second set is 'what mitigating factors' are there? A court is likely to want to know what you were doing prior to missing your 'last train'. Were you working a late shift at a hospital, giving aid and comfort to elderly and unwell former Magistrates, or were you out on the town, dancing round your handbag and suffering balance problems caused by the demon drink? By how much did you miss the last train? That you had a return ticket is 'good', but the price of a return is based on the conditions attached to it, that is, return the same day. It tends to show that you intended to pay the fare, although, in the event, it wasn't 'the correct fare'.
  9. As regards what questions the rail prosecutor will ask, if the charge is Byelaw 18, then there are very few questions likley. The evidence comes from 'the Inspector', you will, before any Court hearing, have a copy of the Inspector's statement. In a trial, the 'prosecution' evidence is presented first, you (or your lawyer) can then cross examine the witness. the most important questions would seem to relate to what happened at Sheffield. It is quite likely that the Inspector will come armed with various types of reports, which will show whether the ticket office machines were in use, and how many tickets were being issued around the time that you boarded a train. It is also probable that the witness will know what the 'schedule 17' requirements are at Sheffield. These are the requirements for what services shall be provided at the station in terms of ticket office opening hours. There are some strange technicalities, most of which are 'not relevant' in this case, for example, if all ten windows were open, more than 5 must be able to sell 'all types' of tickets, whilst less than 5 can sell just local products, interesting perhaps, but as you were only needing a simple ticket, the only issue is 'were any of them open'. After the 'prosecution evidence', the defence, that is you, can give your evidence from the witness box. You can then be examined by the prosecutor, and also by 'the Court'. Their questions will depend on what you say in your 'evidence'.
  10. There are 'service level' which train operators should stick to, no doubt a cleverer man than I can look up queuing standards for Sheffield, but 'reasonableness' tests with a strict liability Byelaw are odd. The requirement is simple. If there is an opportunity to get a ticket, then the passenger simply must have a ticket before travel. If there were exceptional queues, then the train operator will notify 'other stations' that some travellers have been allowed on without tickets. Having been to Sheffield, I doubt that such a situation arises, unlike a station such as Tilbury, normally handling less passengers than the two windows and two self service machines can cope with, which every so often will get a whole cruise ship load of non English speaking tourists. Instinct suggests that unless you can obtain a statement from a member of rail staff who authorised your ticketless travel, your version wouldbe seen as 'not credible'.
  11. A common 'theme' in many threads is the resentment at being cautioned 'like a criminal'. At the time that any investigator cautions, the person being spoken to must have done enough that there is suspicion that he or she has committed an offence. The caution is one of the requirements in place to prevent 'investigators' from taking advantage of a person during question and answer. This country has a highly developed, and in some eyes, very liberal, approach to investigating 'crime', if a ticket inspector cautions you, perhaps you would care to reflect on the situation that might apply in other parts of the world, or other times in history, where we might consider that human rights are not respected.
  12. I think that this one needs a 'Tfl/London Bus' expert. I never get involved with cases west of the M25, so I have no expertise in dealing with 'Tfl'. I have a vague thought that some of their matters are passed to 'CPS' (Crown Prosecution Service). Bottom line is that there is enough to prove 'theft' here, albeit 'by finding'. I would suggest that you need a carefully written response to Tfl, and that you might want to get personal advice, possibly from 'CAB' or perhaps from a high street solicitor. In an open forum, there may be too many questions, and potentially incomplete answers, for proper 'advice'.
  13. A rare chance to take the 'p' out of Codja! His suggestions are spot on. When you do write to a prosecutor, or a Court, read your letter back to yourself before posting it. If you have just made a long journey from an exotic holiday, or perhaps enjoyed some very fine wine, simple mistakes will creep in. If writing is not your strongest talent, it may be wise to get a trusted mate to look it over. Avoid language that you would not normally use, no one 'proceeds in a northerly direction up the A20' we actually 'drive from A to B', and the Court, or the prosecution team will be looking for sincerity rather than complex grammar. (It may be that I have just 'proceeded up the A20', now I wish that I was proceeding in a southerly direction along that wonderful road, several years in Limoges must be better than a few days in Basildon Magistrates Court. Ho hum.)
  14. Seems that Codja and I were AWOL at the same time, not in the same place, I hasten to add. Is it a good idea to attend Court? Generally, yes. However, 'rail fare evasion' cases are very often dealt with without the defendant present. If the defendant, the 'alleged fare dodger', writes to the Court, their letter of mitigation will be read out. Take care with letters. I have just looked at another posters 'draft', with a spelling mistake in. I hope that he will not be offended, but the difference between 'writing' and 'writhing' would make a clerk to Magistrates smile. Whether a personal attendance will acheive a better result than an appearance will depend largely on what the defendant looks like, and what all of the circumstances are. With normal fines being in th region of £350.00, an early guilty plea gaining a 'third' 'discount', whether in writing or in person, an attendance may get some credit, and some further reduction. If a defendant is desparate to gain any form of 'discharge', an attendance is essential, and I would suggest that help from one of the 'silver tongued brigade' of polished Court room professionals would be useful. With offences against the Regulation of Railways Act potentially attracting custody, it is sometimes the case that regular offenders will be required to attend. Failure to do so can lead to the issue of warrants for arrest. I know this, one of 'mine' has a warrant out, following yet another rail fare conviction. As neither I nor the Court have been able to get hold of him, the first warrant, with a bail backing, has now been replaced with a 'forthwith' warrant. The effect of such a warrant is that if he does get 'lifted' on a Friday night, he will be before a very unsypathetic Bench on the following Monday morning, having been fed and watered by 'elderly William' for the weekend. If you do attend Court, please take some means to pay the fines etcetera. Court are getting a tad annoyed with people thinking that the can pay 'on the drip' as a right. More often recently, I hear word like 'wilful non payment', which will sometimes be followed by words like '7 days'.
  15. Whether or not the FCC chap is a Magistrate will make no difference to an individual case. He would not be allowed to sit in any cases where his employment would potentially conflict with his impartiality. All of us who spend time in Court try to guess how a Court will view the cases we work on. Whether we are presenting a prosecution or a defence, it is sensible to try to look at our own positions from the persepective of the 'Bench'. After more than 30 years, I still cannot fully predict outcomes.
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