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FCC - case proceeding to prosecution


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Hi

 

This is probably a very regular question, so thanks for any advice.

 

I was caught without a ticket by a FCC "fraud protection officer". I offered to pay the penatly fare but this option was not made available to me. The fraud protection officer then checked my oyster card and deduced I travelled without a ticket two days before.

 

I received a letter saying they intended to prosecute and for me to reply with my version of events. I did this, apologised and offered to pay any costs. I included my bank statements which proved I regularly bought tickets and was not a serial offender.

 

However, I receved another letter today telling me they still intend to prosecute.

 

Im absolutely stunned they wish to proceed to court over such a small matter, especially as I am not a serial offender. Other commuters on the platform were stopped by revenue protection officers and were paying their penatly fares without much fuss whereas I was interrogated under caution (much to the fraud officers pleasure) for 45mins on the platform. Sadly Im at their mercy. They are a big company and can bully me if they wish to it seems.

 

My question is: What can I expect now that this will proceed to court? Will I have to appear in court or can I supply a statement to be read out? What potental penalty do I realistically face?

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Hello potamus, welcome to CAG.

 

I'm not one of the forum gurus, we seem to be a bit thin on the ground this week. I guess it's the half-term effect.

 

I know that wriggler7, who I haven't seen for a few days, has said previously that attending court is a good idea, to show that you're a serious individual.

 

As for what may happen, until someone with information comes along, you could have a read around the forum. We've had quite a few similar cases in the last month.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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I think the fact that you were spoken to by a 'Fraud Protection Officer' rather than a 'revenue protection officer' means that you were suspected of something more than merely not having a ticket.

The oyster record shows that this was not a one-off.

You will receive a summons with any relevant evidence they plan to use in court, you can plead guilty or not guilty in person or through the post.

Any fine imposed will take into account your personal circumstances & is therefore impossible to guess.

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My question is: What can I expect now that this will proceed to court? Will I have to appear in court or can I supply a statement to be read out? What potental penalty do I realistically face?

It depends what offence is being charges, as to the outcome of the court hearing. If you're charged with a Byelaw offence (more than likely Byelaw 18.1 in this case), then you'll receive a criminal conviction and have to pay a fine plus costs etc. Byelaws are non-recordable on the Police National Computer (PNC). If charged under section 5 Regulation of Railways Act 1889, you typically received a heftier fine, and the matter is recordable on the PNC. For the latter, intention to avoid paymnent has to be evident, whereas for the former, it doesn't. You'll still receive a criminal record too. Obviously all this depends on whether you're found guilty of an offence of course!

 

Unfortunately staff are not obliged to issue Penalty Fare Notices, regardless of how impecable your history is. As SRPO said, it's likely that they suspected you of something more serious than a Byelaw offence. Cant say any more without knowing exactly what occured on the day in question. For FCC not to settle administratively, I can't help but feel there's more to this than meets the eye. Of course, FCC aren't obliged to settle, regardless of the severity of the alleged offence(s).

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Im absolutely stunned they wish to proceed to court over such a small matter, especially as I am not a serial offender. Other commuters on the platform were stopped by revenue protection officers and were paying their penatly fares without much fuss whereas I was interrogated under caution (much to the fraud officers pleasure) for 45mins on the platform. Sadly Im at their mercy. They are a big company and can bully me if they wish to it seems.

 

My question is: What can I expect now that this will proceed to court? Will I have to appear in court or can I supply a statement to be read out? What potental penalty do I realistically face?

 

You may consider the rail company action 'bullying'

 

They will state that they expect travellers to obey the law, that their evidence indicates that you didn't do so and that they are simply asking the Court to act accordingly.

 

In direct answer to your specific question Stigy's generalisation is spot-on:

 

yes, you may be well advised to attend Court as Magistrates tend to give good credit to those who accept the consequences of their actions, attend and say sorry. If you intend to plead not guilty to any charge, you will have to attend in any case.

 

Alternatively, you may choose to plead 'guilty' by letter and send an explanation of your actions without attending Court

 

If you are charged with a breach of National Railway Byelaw 18 (2005) the prosecutor does not need to prove that you intended not to pay. If you plead guilty at the earliest opportunity, you are likely to be ordered to pay a fine on Level 3 of the standard scale. That can be a maximum of £1000, but in practice, for a first offence, will normally be assessed at half the perceived average weekly wage if you are an employed adult (£350) and this may be further reduced for that early guilty plea and consideration of any mitigating factors. You may also be ordered to pay the prosecutor's costs (or part of them) and a victim surcharge of £15 applied to everyone who is convicted & fined in a Magistrates Court.. Typically this will total around £250 all in.

 

If you are charged with the more serious offence of fare evasion contrary to Section 5 of The Regulation of Railways Act (1889) the prosecution will need to prove that you intended to avoid paying. That said, the fine entry level for a first offence will be equal to a whole week's average wage (assessed as £350 ) making the total around £465 and the same reductions & other considerations may be applied.

 

I hope that helps.

.

Edited by Old-CodJA
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Hello potamus, welcome to CAG.

 

I'm not one of the forum gurus, we seem to be a bit thin on the ground this week. I guess it's the half-term effect.

 

I know that wriggler7, who I haven't seen for a few days, has said previously that attending court is a good idea, to show that you're a serious individual.

 

As for what may happen, until someone with information comes along, you could have a read around the forum. We've had quite a few similar cases in the last month.

 

My best, HB

 

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'.

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  • 2 months later...

Thanks for all the replies. I didn't get notification of them so I appreciate the time you have taken.

 

I called the FCC prosecution office on a technical matter relating to the summons and managed to speak to a nice bloke. After discussing the matter with him we came to a solution and the matter will not now go to court.

 

Why did a fraud protection officer speak to me? He just happened to be the person who stopped me. He accused me of travelling without a ticket the day before. This was not true. I sent the tickets to the prosecution department and offered to cover costs. They continued to prosecute me for this day as well. I can only presume they did not read my letter. I can't see why they would try to prosecute me for a day on which I have shown them I have tickets. I therefore assume they also did not see my offer to cover costs as when I spoke to them they we happy to go down this route rather than proceed to court.

 

To the user who pm'd me. I hope you see this post as I do not have enough privileges to respond to your message.

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Thanks for all the replies. I didn't get notification of them so I appreciate the time you have taken.

 

I called the FCC prosecution office on a technical matter relating to the summons and managed to speak to a nice bloke. After discussing the matter with him we came to a solution and the matter will not now go to court.

 

Why did a fraud protection officer speak to me? He just happened to be the person who stopped me. He accused me of travelling without a ticket the day before. This was not true. I sent the tickets to the prosecution department and offered to cover costs. They continued to prosecute me for this day as well. I can only presume they did not read my letter. I can't see why they would try to prosecute me for a day on which I have shown them I have tickets. I therefore assume they also did not see my offer to cover costs as when I spoke to them they we happy to go down this route rather than proceed to court.

 

To the user who pm'd me. I hope you see this post as I do not have enough privileges to respond to your message.

 

Whatever the matters you refer to in the 3rd para. of your message above, we cannot comment without having been party to all of the information, including the inspector's report.

 

What matters is that you have avoided prosecution and reached a mutually satisfactory conclusion.

 

Well done.

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