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TFL Fare Evasion - Due in Court - HELP!!!


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Hi there,

 

On the 23rd May 2011, I used my wife's Freedom Pass. I was stopped at Oxford Circus Station by a Revenue Control Inspector. He asked to see my pass, and I showed him my wife's pass. I admitted to using the pass for a few days and told him my wife did not know I was using the pass. He then looked at my own Oyster Card, and checked its usage. He asked me why my own Oyster Card hadn't been used since March 2011, and I told him that I sometimes come by car.

 

I was told by the Inspectorthat I would have to pay a fine and that I would not receive a criminal record.

 

On the 20th July 2011, I received correspondence from TFL which asked me to provide details surrounding this case. I submitted a form which outlined the mitigating circumstances of my case, namely, my wife's pass is in the same coloured wallet as my own, and I made a genuine mistake. I also submitted my own pass which showed some regular use (I also drive to work in Central London).

 

To my absolute shock, I have been summoned to court. I have to complete a means assessment, and I have the option to either;

 

1) Plead guilty, and not turn up to court

2) Plead guilty and go to court

3) Plead not guilty and provide witnesses.

 

I have to answer the charge of 'travelled on the Railway without having previously paid the fare and with intent to avoid payment thereof'

 

Contrary to S.5(3)(a) of the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 as amended by section 84(2) of the Transport Act 1962 and Section 18 of the British Railways Act 1970.

 

On the bottom of the first page of the summons its written, 'If you are convicted, the court will be asked to order you to pay costs in addition to any fine or other penalty imposed. If you plead guilty in writing, the application will be shown below. If you disagree with the application, you should explain why when you write to the court.

 

On the above date (January 2012), London Underground will be applying for the sum of £120 towards the costs incurred.

 

Included within the Summons is the Statement of Facts, Notice; Plea of Guilty in Absence, Acknowledgement and Notice of Plea, Acceptance Form, Statement of Income and Outgoings, Witness Statement of the Revenue Control Inspector (all of which is correct), A photocopy of my wife's Freedom Pass, Photocopy of its usage, Witness Statement of Prosecution Administrator detailing a check made on my own Oyster Card. Because they checked my own Oyster Card on the 4th August, the administrator was unable to establish the journey details and pre pay balance from 23rd May 2011. My mitigating circumstances letter and finally, a copy of my Oyster Card.

 

Obviously what I did was stupid. But now I'm so worried. I was using my wife's card for some time, however, my wife works with me in Central London, and she most of the time uses the card herself. I'm worried that they will think that any usage was all mine. I can provide proof of my wife's employment (wage slips etc)

 

If anyone can shed some insight/give some advice, that would be much appreciated. I have never been in trouble with the police before, and have never evaded paying my fare on the Underground before.

 

1) Will I get a criminal record?

2) If so - how long will it be kept on record?

3) How much of a fine will I have to pay in total?

4) Should I plead guilty?

5) If so - should I go to court.

6) Could I settle out of court?

7) Could I go to jail?

 

I am so unbelievably worried. I can pay the fine, but obviously, I want to avoid the criminal record.

 

Kind regards,

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Hello there and welcome to CAG.

 

To save old Cod-JA getting RSI too soon [morning, OC :)], have a read of this thread. OC has answered many questions about Freedom Pass misuse there, but please post again if you don't find all the answers you need.

 

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?324924-Desperate-for-LU-advice-please-old_codja-and-undergroud-esp-pls%281-Viewing%29-nbsp

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Best to be honest as you knew what you were doing. They from what you said are now aware you have used it more than a one off, so mitigation of confused wallets is not going to do as you will see from link honeybee has added. Also the fact you did not credit your pass for some time shows both of you were using one pass in all likely hood at some times dependant on who was travelling.

 

You really have to follow the process now as they have decided to go to court and put your side, but be prepared as you are at risk of conviction and fine as it is like using anothers credit card as the other thread also refers.

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My feelings are well known on this subject. I wonder how long the OP would of carried on using the pass had he not got caught. To me its like any other form of willfull deception. And then he has the nerve to come here asking for advice? A freedom pass is funded purely for the benefit of those entitled to it and no one else. It is probably one of the most miss-managed schemes going which all tax payers pay for and is causing financial strains to many LA's because it is grossly underfunded and milked for what it is worth by many. IMHO, it should only be available for those who really need it, those who have served in the armed forces and those who have been a paid up resident of the UK for at least 15 years.

 

However, it's good to know that people who abuse the scheme are getting caught.

 

Please Note

 

The advice I offer will be based on the information given by the person needing it. All my advice is based on my experiences and knowledge gained in working in the motor and passenger transport industries in various capacities. Although my advice will always be sincere, it should be used as guidence only.

 

I would always urge to seek face to face professional advice for clarification prior to taking any action.

 

Please click my reputation 'star' button at the bottom of my profile window on the left if you found my advice useful.

 

 

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Hello there and welcome to CAG.

 

To save old Cod-JA getting RSI too soon [morning, OC :)], have a read of this thread. OC has answered many questions about Freedom Pass misuse there, but please post again if you don't find all the answers you need.

 

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?324924-Desperate-for-LU-advice-please-old_codja-and-undergroud-esp-pls%281-Viewing%29-nbsp

 

My best, HB

 

Good morning HB ...thanks for your concern for my poorly trained typing finger.smilie.png

 

Yes, it's never too late to ask them to consider an alternative disposal, but the misuse of Freedom Passes is considered a very serious breach of trust and will usually result in prosecution.

 

You can mitigate the effect of that somewhat, but I have to say that a conviction is still a conviction.

 

If you need to make any further comment or query, we'll be pleased to try to help.

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I know what I did was incredibly stupid. I do really need some further help on this issue.

 

I usually drive to work (sometimes I have to open the office door's in the morning), and my wife comes later.

 

However, that week, my wife was ill and my boss's parking space was not available so I took the train. The Freedom Pass wallet is the same colour as my own oyster card, and I was using that. I didn't even think to check picture. In hindsight, it was very stupid. I know what I did was wrong.

 

If I am convicted, and obtain a criminal record, I will lose my job. I have 3 children, and no formal education. Any advice you can give would be much appreciated.

 

The thread you posted was helpful - but unfortunately, that particular case was slightly different to my own. From what I understand, the case you referred me to has not reached court yet.

 

I am due to appear next year;

 

1) Will I get a criminal record?

2) If so - how long will it be kept on record?

3) How much of a fine will I have to pay in total?

4) Should I plead guilty?

5) If so - should I go to court.

6) Could I settle out of court?

7) Could I go to jail?

 

Any advice you can provide would be much appreciated.

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1) Will I get a criminal record?

2) If so - how long will it be kept on record?

3) How much of a fine will I have to pay in total?

4) Should I plead guilty?

5) If so - should I go to court.

6) Could I settle out of court?

7) Could I go to jail?

 

Hello again. I thought the answers to all or most of your questions were on the thread. Which ones didn't you find please?

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Hello Honeybee13,

 

The link you sent doesn't really give any indication as to what to do if one is summoned to court.

 

It does seem as though I will end up with a criminal record. I am so desperately worried, I feel suicidal.

 

Do you know how long the criminal record lasts for?

 

Could I settle out of court?

 

Many thanks for you help thus far.

 

Kind regards,

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Hello again. I have to go out for a while. If you haven't had more answers when I get back, I'll have another look at unlucky 1's thread and post up any relevant details.

 

I believe OC says that in theory you can be offered the opportunity to settle at any time up to the hearing, but this is their choice not yours. Maybe he will be able to comment further for you on that next time he's here.

 

OC also said on the other thread that he thought proscution is likely because of the nature of the offence.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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1) Will I get a criminal record?

2) If so - how long will it be kept on record?

3) How much of a fine will I have to pay in total?

4) Should I plead guilty?

5) If so - should I go to court.

6) Could I settle out of court?

7) Could I go to jail?

 

 

If you are convicted of (or plead guilty to) fare evasion contrary to Section 5 of The Regulation of Railways Act (1889), yes, a criminal conviction record is made.

 

This may remain on file for a year or two, but please do remember, although it is a conviction it is at the lower end of the scale of 'criminality' and would not normally affect employment. It should be declared, but would usually only be a problem for someone in employment where a high standard of behaviour and trustworthiness is a prerequisite. Someone like a lawyer or similar professional role.

 

The maximum fine that may be imposed on conviction is at 'Level 3 on the standard scale'. That means up to £1000, BUT don't panic. If you have no previous convictions, the Magistrates will start on the premis that average earnings are £350 per week and if you do not declare your earnings, or enter a plea, the fine will usually be set at that amount. They may also order you to pay the unpaid fare in compensation and the rail company's costs in bringing the case. That can be anywhere from £100 to £200 and you would also be ordered to pay a 'victim surcharge' of £15.00 imposed by the government on everyone fined by the Magistrates.

 

If you plead guilty and send your statement of earning declared on form MC100, which should be sent to you with the Summons, the Magistrates will give credit for an early plea and reduce the fine accordingly. Please make sure that you make a true declaration of earnings.

 

The total penalty, including fine, costs, compensation & surcharge for someone who pleads guilty and apologises at the first hearing will probably be in the order of £350 to £400.

 

someone who recognises the authority of the Court, attends, says 'sorry' and pleads guilty at a first hearing will always get the maximum credit from the Magistrates.

 

The decision as to whether or not any case may be settled out of Court always lies with the prosecution. You would have to give them compelling reasons to accept such a course of action and as the misuse of Freedom Passes is seen as 'stealing from the public purse' it is rare for these cases to be disposed of in that way.

 

Although the ultimate sanction available to Magistrates is a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 months, the answer to 'Could I go to jail?' is NO.

 

Custodial sentences are reserved for habitual serious offending.

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The Freedom Pass wallet is the same colour as my own oyster card,

 

On the back of a freedom ass wallet, it says the words Freedom Pass. Both passes look completely different. I seem to remember that the oyster card wallet has 2 card spaces - FP only has one.

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Dear Nystagmite,

 

My wife's Freedom Pass for some reason has the same yellow and blue colours as that of my own. Both have the same 'Ikea' sponsorship on the back of the wallet.

 

Again, I know what I did was incorrect. The worst mistakes are the one's you don't learn from.

 

Dear Old-CodJA,

 

Many thanks for your post. I found it to be very helpful. Unfortunately, my current role involves paying money on behalf the company to creditors. I have not yet told my employers about my summons, though I suspect if I do, I will be fired.

 

I will write to the prosecutions team citing mitigating factors concerning my case. I know its a long shot. Could you give me any advice as to what to write?

 

1) I'm hoping to highlight my role dealing with credit which I will no doubt lose should this case go to court and I'm convicted.

 

2) This was an isolated incident. My wife had been using her Freedom Card when she comes to work (she works with me)

 

3) Obviously I won't ever do this again.

 

Could you give me any advice as to what to write to the prosecutions team at TFL?

 

If this does not work, I think I'm going to plead guilty, and attend court. Is there anything I can do to avoid getting a criminal record?

 

Many thanks for your help thus far. The advice you have given is much appreciated.

 

Kind regards,

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Dear SRPO,

 

I unfortunately can't answer that question. I'll have to ask my wife. Perhaps at one stage she removed it and put it in her purse. I know that the yellow and blue wallet is easier to see when rummaging through one's things. I appreciate it doesn't look good. In fact, it looks terrible. Again, I know I made a huge error. I'm just so very worried about obtaining a criminal record. Any assistance one can provide would be very helpful.

 

Kind regards,

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I will write to the prosecutions team citing mitigating factors concerning my case. I know its a long shot. Could you give me any advice as to what to write?

 

Could you give me any advice as to what to write to the prosecutions team at TFL?

 

If this does not work, I think I'm going to plead guilty, and attend court. Is there anything I can do to avoid getting a criminal record?

 

You obviously have a few weeks yet to attempt to get TfL to change their mind before you need tell your employer anything.

 

You could write asking TfL to consider 'dealing with this matter by way of an administrative settlement.'

 

Stress that it was 'an action for which you are thoroughly ashamed'

 

Offer 'an unreserved apology to the staff and company and to the public that provide the funding for concessionary passes.'

 

Explain that you 'have a young family and are employed in a credit control capacity, which demands high standards of honesty and integrity.'

 

Tell them that 'the effect of a conviction for a first offence will have a very disproportionate effect on your future career and that it is most likely to cost you your current job.'

 

State that you are 'asking to be allowed to pay the full costs that have been incurred by the company in dealing with your misdemeanour, along with any unpaid fares and request that they be kind enough to allow this to be settled without continuing to Court action.'

 

Give a 'sincere undertaking never to travel without a fully valid ticket in future'

 

Use words of your own to convey those meanings and hope that you get a sympathetic hearing.

 

I am not going to pretend that I feel sorry for you, I don't because the misuse of Freedom passes is a serious issue. I am not going to comment on the wallets, but there are good reasons for saying that I don't think that your explanation regarding the colours helps your case one iota.

 

If TfL decide that they are continuing to prosecute there is little more that you can do and if that does come to pass, you will be well advised to attend and say sorry. You might choose to take legal advice at your own expense (this doesn't qualify for legal aid), but in my opinion, I doubt that it will make much difference

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2) This was an isolated incident. My wife had been using her Freedom Card when she comes to work (she works with me)

 

I'm not sure why I'm trying to help you, must be OC's influence :). The above statement is at odds with what you said in post #1.

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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2) This was an isolated incident. My wife had been using her Freedom Card when she comes to work (she works with me)

 

I'm not sure why I'm trying to help you, must be OC's influence :). The above statement is at odds with what you said in post #1.

 

HB

 

When I said was using the card for some time, I had used it for 3 days continuous, when my wife was at home I'll.

 

Many thanks for your help.

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When I said was using the card for some time, I had used it for 3 days continuous, when my wife was at home I'll.

 

Many thanks for your help.

 

Hardly an isolated incident then. And if you used it 3 days on the trot, hardly a mistake either. Maybe it would of gone on to be 4, 5 or more days had you had not been caught. Hats off to the revenue inspector!

 

We are here to advise people who have made genuine mistakes, i fail to see how you fit into that criteria.

 

Please Note

 

The advice I offer will be based on the information given by the person needing it. All my advice is based on my experiences and knowledge gained in working in the motor and passenger transport industries in various capacities. Although my advice will always be sincere, it should be used as guidence only.

 

I would always urge to seek face to face professional advice for clarification prior to taking any action.

 

Please click my reputation 'star' button at the bottom of my profile window on the left if you found my advice useful.

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Dear Old-CodJA,

 

Just want to clarify the length of the recod on file. You said 'This may remain on file for a year or two'. It seems some other sources said 5 years or more?

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Best Regards

 

 

If you are convicted of (or plead guilty to) fare evasion contrary to Section 5 of The Regulation of Railways Act (1889), yes, a criminal conviction record is made.

 

This may remain on file for a year or two, but please do remember, although it is a conviction it is at the lower end of the scale of 'criminality' and would not normally affect employment. It should be declared, but would usually only be a problem for someone in employment where a high standard of behaviour and trustworthiness is a prerequisite. Someone like a lawyer or similar professional role.

 

The maximum fine that may be imposed on conviction is at 'Level 3 on the standard scale'. That means up to £1000, BUT don't panic. If you have no previous convictions, the Magistrates will start on the premis that average earnings are £350 per week and if you do not declare your earnings, or enter a plea, the fine will usually be set at that amount. They may also order you to pay the unpaid fare in compensation and the rail company's costs in bringing the case. That can be anywhere from £100 to £200 and you would also be ordered to pay a 'victim surcharge' of £15.00 imposed by the government on everyone fined by the Magistrates.

 

If you plead guilty and send your statement of earning declared on form MC100, which should be sent to you with the Summons, the Magistrates will give credit for an early plea and reduce the fine accordingly. Please make sure that you make a true declaration of earnings.

 

The total penalty, including fine, costs, compensation & surcharge for someone who pleads guilty and apologises at the first hearing will probably be in the order of £350 to £400.

 

someone who recognises the authority of the Court, attends, says 'sorry' and pleads guilty at a first hearing will always get the maximum credit from the Magistrates.

 

The decision as to whether or not any case may be settled out of Court always lies with the prosecution. You would have to give them compelling reasons to accept such a course of action and as the misuse of Freedom Passes is seen as 'stealing from the public purse' it is rare for these cases to be disposed of in that way.

 

Although the ultimate sanction available to Magistrates is a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 months, the answer to 'Could I go to jail?' is NO.

 

Custodial sentences are reserved for habitual serious offending.

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I have had a PM asking further questions so this is my understanding:

 

It seems that some people are under the impression that a PNC record is a criminal record. That isn't the case although all criminal records should be on the PNC.

 

My understanding is that a 'criminal' record for conviction for a first offence, which would attract a maximum sentence of less than 3 months imprisonment, may generally be considered 'spent' afer 3 years. I have been told that in practice, records may be expunged earlier in some cases. but I believe that 3 years is the norm.

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Many thanks Old-CodJA.

 

More questions:

If plea guilty by letter but do not send means form, is that ok?

Will the prosecutor attend court if plea guilty by letter?

I am working and a permanent resident but not UK citizen, will the criminal record affect my entry to UK in the futher? Does this means I can not travel oversea until it spends?

 

Thanks in advance.

 

I have had a PM asking further questions so this is my understanding:

 

It seems that some people are under the impression that a PNC record is a criminal record. That isn't the case although all criminal records should be on the PNC.

 

My understanding is that a 'criminal' record for conviction for a first offence, which would attract a maximum sentence of less than 3 months imprisonment, may generally be considered 'spent' afer 3 years. I have been told that in practice, records may be expunged earlier in some cases. but I believe that 3 years is the norm.

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If you do not return a completed means form the Magistrates will assume that you are on average earnings and will impose a fine at the higher end of their guidelines for a first offence and will almost certainly order you to pay compensation and the prosecution costs.

 

If you plead guilty some credit will be given and the fine will be reduced a little accordingly.

 

If you are untruthful in filling out the means form and get caught out you could face a very serious charge. The Courts do not take kindly to people trying to cheat.

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Many thanks OC.

 

Could you please also help with my other two questions in my previous post?

 

1. Will the prosecutor attend court if plea guilty by letter?

 

2. I am working and a permanent resident in UK but not UK citizen, will the criminal record affect my entry to UK in the future? Does this means I can not travel oversea until it spends?

 

Thanks in advance

 

If you do not return a completed means form the Magistrates will assume that you are on average earnings and will impose a fine at the higher end of their guidelines for a first offence and will almost certainly order you to pay compensation and the prosecution costs.

 

If you plead guilty some credit will be given and the fine will be reduced a little accordingly.

 

If you are untruthful in filling out the means form and get caught out you could face a very serious charge. The Courts do not take kindly to people trying to cheat.

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