I have had a little read of the forums and I'd be grateful for any advice or recommendation on this matter as to be honest my head is in a total spin and I can't think clearly.
About 6 weeks back I got caught using my grandmother's freedom pass.
I was massively struggling financially and desperate for a job.
I was obsessed with getting a job to the point I thought of little else.
I have autism and have been suffering with anxiety and depression also.
To be transparent, I haven't had a 'clear head' in a while and lack a bit of an understanding of the bigger picture at times.
When I used the pass, I genuinely thought it'd save me money getting to the interview (I had about £10 to my name and just was petrified about my life prospects) and put the pass back at my grandmother's and there would be minimal issues. I knew you could get prosecuted for not having the right ticket and knew I shouldn't have done it but I didn't actually understand what that entailed, if that makes sense?
I was caught on the way to interview and crumbled apart completely.
As I was approached I panicked and attempted to produce a card I hadn't used.
Safe to say the experienced inspector saw through that and once that happened I confessed to it not being my card and it being that of my grandmother's.
I explained that I'd been made redundant in the summer and that I've always had a hard time finding jobs.
I said I used the card because of my poor finances and that I just wanted to try and get the job and everything would get better after that.
He took my statement, cautioned me and I honestly don't remember the rest as I felt completely emotionally overwhelmed. Amazingly I did get the job and started the next day.
Shaken up by what happened, I have consistently used my own oyster card since, eventually confessing my poor finances to my family who agreed to help me through the first pay day.
Days later I received a letter from TfL which asked me to provide any mitigating reasons for them not to pursue prosecution.
I accepted that what I had done was wrong, apologised profusely and promised to never do it again.
I explained everything about my consistent struggle with employment, how I would lose my job if I was to be convicted, and that I only now understand the consequences of Freedom Pass misuse. I also described in detail my poor mental health and how it was worsening since the incident.
I submitted this letter and received a response through email from one of the prosecutors who asked for further evidence of the mental health conditions and disability I was alluding to. This was towards the end of last month.
I panicked and just didn't know how to reply, but I have since requested my medical records which I haven't got back yet.
My anxiety and depression has gotten much worse, I was signed off sick from the new job i got, then subsequently let go from this job because of my sickness.
I was prescribed medication not long after the initial incident and will be getting a higher dose soon.
I am having constant panic attacks as I am terrified for my future life prospects.
I struggle already finding and keeping a job because of my disability and coping with depression.
I just feel a criminal conviction will be one barrier too many for me to find anything.
My previous roles and work have all centred about some law and some finance which required Enhanced background checks.
I emailed the prosector team member who emailed me all of this info and also explained that my anxiety over this incident had caused me to be off work sick and that I had subsequently lost my employment. I mentioned that I was remorseful and apologised again, and offered to pay a fine that TfL felt appropriate along with any other fees necessary in order to settle out of court. I said I have requested medical records and asked if there was a deadline to submit further evidence. I heard nothing back.
Today I received a single justice procedure notice for entering 'a compulsory ticket area without having with him a valid ticket'. it's clear they intend to go on and prosecute me and i feel sick and cannot sleep even though I'm utterly sleep deprived.
The statement given by the RCI is in my opinion fair and accurate, I have no qualms there.
From what I can make out from the paperwork, it's the £4.90 that's in dispute (the cash value of the fare) which I've gotten from the RCI's statement and there's a mention of a fine (which would be reduced up to 33 % if I plead guilty) costs (mentioned as a 225 contribution) compensation (mentioned as £0.00) and victim surcharge with no value mentioned.
I honestly feel my life is in ruins worrying about this and thinking about how bad things would be with a conviction. Sorry for the too much info but I feel like I'm very much at the edge at the moment.
I know it may seem like my health getting so bad is an overreaction to the incident but I think that is the impact of my autism (I have a tendency to over worry and obsess) and my depression.
I honestly can't think straight and the reason for my post is because I do need some direction in how to respond to this? received a decent tax rebate at the end of october as well as full wages from my last job and would be in a position to pay. I just can't take the conviction hit.
Any ideas on my next steps, I still haven't sent further evidence as I'm still gathering it but should I start there?
I have 21 days to enter a plea.
I'm still awaiting my medical records but have a picture of my prescription, my 'fit note' which signed me off work, and have screenshots from my tfl account that show that I have been using my own oyster account since (Although now being out of work and most of the time find it hard to leave the house - these journeys are sporadic). I haven't consulted my doctor fully about why my health has gotten worse but I may talk to her in the hope that she may also write a letter if this would be helpful?
Apologies for the novel and again, any help, advice, and kind words would be appreciated. I recognise what I did was wrong but I am desperate to not pay for it for years and years to come.