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Railway court summons - help! - Old-CodJA?!

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Hi, am hoping someone can help with this rather alarming situation!

 

I've received a court summons for entering a train in a non-compulsory ticket area for the purpose of travelling on the railway without a valid ticket entitling travel. It says that I contravened by-law no 18(1) of the railway by-laws under section 219 schedule 20 of the transport act 2000 and i have been given a court date and been asked to pay £100 court costs plus the £1.70 fare.

 

I was staying at a friend's house who lives in zone 3 (a national rail station where oyster is not accepted and where there are no barriers to check tickets). I had been staying with him for a week or less, as I had only recently moved to london and was in the process of looking for a house. I was using a weekly travel card to travel to work from zone 3 to zone 1. however, on the day in question i had only a few days left in london before leaving for a couple of weeks and so didn't renew my weekly travel card but made sure i had enough pre-paid credit and would have had to buy a separate ticket to cover the 2 stops of the national rail journey before my oyster card kicked in.

 

Unfortunately, being used to using a travel card, I forgot to buy the separate ticket before boarding the train and when i changed trains and scanned in with my oyster a revenue protection officer stopped me and asked me where my ticket was. I stupidly tried to make an excuse but i was co-operative, answered his questions explained that I didn't intend not to pay the fare, and offered to pay the £1.70 fare . The officer said that this was not an option and that I would have to wait to see if i received a letter. I did and i explained in my reply that i did not intend to avoid paying the fare but that i accepted that it was my responsibility to ensure that i always carried the correct ticket.

 

However, I have now received the summons and the statement from the officer in which he claims that he asked me whether i had intended not to pay the fare and I replied yes. This is inaccurate as he didn't ask me this question and I certainly wouldn't have replied yes.

 

I received the summons with only about 1 hour to reply requesting that the witness appear in court before i would have missed my chance, so i replied pleading not guilty and requesting he appear. But really I would like to avoid going to court and, most of all, getting a criminal record over this.

 

Advice from similar threads seems to be to plead guilty (I suspect that forgetting to buy the ticket will not make a particularly strong case) and write to the magistrates again asap making clear that I have never broken the law or made a mistake like this before and will certainly never let it happen again and am more than happy to pay the fare, reasonable court costs and fine.

 

How big a deal should I make of the fact that the witnesses' statement was inaccurate?

 

I have been feeling really awful about this. Is it true that I can end up with a criminal record? What can I do to avoid this?!!

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You say that the statement is incorrect, did you read the inpectors notes before you signed them at the time of interview? you may wish to request that the notebook be produced in court.


Views expressed in this forum by me are my own personal opinion and you take it on face value! I make any comments to the best of my knowledge but you take my advice at your own risk.

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I've received a court summons for entering a train in a non-compulsory ticket area for the purpose of travelling on the railway without a valid ticket entitling travel.

 

I was staying at a friend's house who lives in zone 3 (a national rail station where oyster is not accepted.

 

I didn't renew my weekly travel card but made sure I had enough pre-paid credit and would have had to buy a separate ticket to cover the 2 stops of the national rail journey before my oyster card kicked in.

 

I stupidly tried to make an excuse but i was co-operative, answered his questions explained that I didn't intend not to pay the fare, and offered to pay the £1.70 fare. The officer said that this was not an option and that I would have to wait to see if i received a letter. I did and i explained in my reply that i did not intend to avoid paying the fare but that i accepted that it was my responsibility to ensure that i always carried the correct ticket.

 

However, I have now received the summons and the statement from the officer in which he claims that he asked me whether i had intended not to pay the fare and I replied yes. This is inaccurate as he didn't ask me this question and I certainly wouldn't have replied yes.

 

I received the summons with only about 1 hour to reply requesting that the witness appear in court before i would have missed my chance, so i replied pleading not guilty and requesting he appear. But really I would like to avoid going to court and, most of all, getting a criminal record over this.

 

Is it true that I can end up with a criminal record?

 

What can I do to avoid this?!!

 

 

As you will see I have edited your quotes down to the bits that I feel need comment:

 

"I didn't renew my weekly travel card but made sure I had enough pre-paid credit"

 

Having already identified that you knew the station you were travelling from was a National Rail location at which Oyster was not accepted, I'm not sure why you feel that is relevant? I understand that you needed the Oyster for the last part of your journey, but I feel referring to that could be counter-productive in the argument that you did not intend to avoid a fare. It suggests that you had taken steps to make sure that you would be able to get out of the barriers at the end of your journey.

 

"I stupidly tried to make an excuse"

 

Agreed. In trying to excuse your actions with some false story you simply reinforce the belief that you were intending to avoid a fare. It would be helpful to know what excuse you gave, but the better thing to have done would have been to tell the truth.

 

" he claims that he asked me whether I intended not to pay the fare and I replied yes. This is inaccurate"

 

If the statement is materially inaccurate you should plead not-guilty

 

"I received the Summons with only about 1 hour to reply"

 

I don't really understand your comment here. The Summons will normally be served with 14 days to respond and the rules require that there is adequate time to prepare a defence.

 

Why only one hour? Had you given a different address to that where you live and had been traced? Had you been on holiday in the interim?

 

"I replied pleading not guilty and requesting that he (the witness) appear. But I would really like to avoid going to Court over this.."

 

If you have entered a not-guilty plea and requested attendance of the witness, the case will be adjourned to trial.

 

If you have no previous warning on file you could write to the prosecution department and request an opportunity to settle by paying the fare and the costs that the rail company have incurred, but this suggests that you accept some degree of culpability.

 

"Is it true that I can end up with a criminal record?"

 

Yes.

 

"What can I do to avoid this?"

 

Persuade the prosecution manager to settle out of Court and withdraw the Summons.

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Hi both and thanks very much indeed for your help.

 

I did sign the inspectors notes but i did not see the question about deliberately intending not to pay on there. I suppose i could have missed it being that i was in quite a state at that point - but I actually think it's quite unlikely i would have missed it.

 

I only had an hour to reply to the summons because i gave my parent's address to the inspector as i was house hunting at the time and did not have a permanent address in london. the undated summons letter gave me 7 days to reply and i received it on a friday afternoon and had to get the response to him by monday.

 

I do not accept the witnesses' statement that I agreed that I had deliberately intended not to pay the fare, however, I accept that forgetting to buy the ticket is probably not seen as a good enough excuse for not having a ticket.

 

I would like to do what is most likely to avoid going to court and getting a criminal record so I will write to the prosecution manager - but will they be more lenient if I accept responsibility for my mistake or push for not guilty on the grounds that I genuinely forgot to buy the ticket and that the witnesses' statment is wrong?

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I would like to do what is most likely to avoid going to court and getting a criminal record so I will write to the prosecution manager - but will they be more lenient if I accept responsibility for my mistake or push for not guilty on the grounds that I genuinely forgot to buy the ticket and that the witnesses' statment is wrong?

 

It really is difficult to give categoric advice on that one because it does leave much for the Prosecution Managers' personal interpretation before coming to a decision

 

However, if I were the PM having to make that decision (which I'm not in this case)

I would probably err toward allowing a settlement if there is acceptance of responsibility where the traveller has had no previous warnings or, conviction and there are no aggravating features, in the belief that a lesson has been learned and is unlikely to be repeated.

 

If a traveller genuinely expresses the belief that he or she is not responsible for the alleged offence and maintains that view, I let them put their case before the Court and see what the Magistrates decide.

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Thank-you v much for your advice. I will write and hope they will let me settle out of court.

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One more thing; do you think it would help my cause to mention to the prosecution manager that while I understand that what they see as fare evading is a serious matter and should be harshly punished in order to deter other people, in this case it is not in the public interest to make an example of me because the system is changing so that all stations accept oyster cards so that it will not be possible the mistake that I made in the future.

 

...or will this just annoy them?

 

thanks again.

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One more thing; do you think it would help my cause to mention to the prosecution manager that while I understand that what they see as fare evading is a serious matter and should be harshly punished in order to deter other people, in this case it is not in the public interest to make an example of me because the system is changing so that all stations accept oyster cards so that it will not be possible the mistake that I made in the future.

 

...or will this just annoy them?

 

thanks again.

 

I personally would not include that comment.

 

What matters is the legal position as it stands now.

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If you genuinely did not say it was your intention to avoid payment, ask to see the notes which should have been photocopied, I can't see an issue with this as long as the staff member blanked out any data-protection issues (other names and addresses etc). Could there not have been some crossed wires here? For example, I'd be inclined to ask...Is it fair to say it was your intion to avoid paying the correct fare today? and not Did you intend NOT to pay the fare? and in those words, one could quite easily hear it as Did you intend TO pay your fare?, thus answering "YES"...Ask for more details before settling out of court.

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