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Missed penalty letters and fined, now warrant of distress??


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Hello, hopefully someone can help me. Many months ago, my wife was stopped at the train station by an inspector and couldn't find her ticket. She offered to pay the £20 fine then and there but was refused and told she'd get a letter in the mail to pay. Much time passed, we forgot about it, and then over the span of a few months, a couple of letters came for her, however her surname was spelled incorrectly so I assumed them to be junk mail which she gets a lot of, wrote "return to sender" and posted them back.

 

Finally another letter like this came and she decided to open it. Inside, was a notice from the West Midlands Central Finance Unit saying she now owed £338 and if she didn't pay in full, they will do one of many things, including:

 

Issue a warrant of distress for purpose of levying sum due; Register the account in the Register of Judgements, Orders and Fines, restricting credit options and loans and mortgages; Make an attachment of Earnings Order to deduct from her salary; Make a vehicle clamping order;

 

And the most worrying: Refer her case to court, which may decide to issue a warrant without bail for her arrest, increase her fine by 50%, enforce the case at the County Court or High court by applying for a charging order or other court order, or SEND HER TO PRISON!

 

My wife is not registered at my address, on any utility bills of any sort, nor is she employed as she recently graduated University. She is American, here on a visa, and we are planning on moving to the states in about a year so there is really nothing they could do on that list other than imprison her, it seems. I'm very worried, we don't have the money to pay this right now as I've recently enrolled in a debt management program to get our finances under control for us to move.

 

What can I do about this? Can we call them and explain the situation of her not receiving the letters due to her name being spelled incorrectly? I'm happy for us to pay the original fine, but this is outrageous for us right now. Will they really try to arrest her? Please, any help possible is welcome.

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Hello, hopefully someone can help me. Many months ago, my wife was stopped at the train station by an inspector and couldn't find her ticket. She offered to pay the £20 fine then and there but was refused and told she'd get a letter in the mail to pay. Much time passed, we forgot about it, and then over the span of a few months, a couple of letters came for her, however her surname was spelled incorrectly so I assumed them to be junk mail which she gets a lot of, wrote "return to sender" and posted them back.

 

Finally another letter like this came and she decided to open it. Inside, was a notice from the West Midlands Central Finance Unit saying she now owed £338 and if she didn't pay in full, they will do one of many things, including:

 

Issue a warrant of distress for purpose of levying sum due; Register the account in the Register of Judgements, Orders and Fines, restricting credit options and loans and mortgages; Make an attachment of Earnings Order to deduct from her salary; Make a vehicle clamping order;

 

And the most worrying: Refer her case to court, which may decide to issue a warrant without bail for her arrest, increase her fine by 50%, enforce the case at the County Court or High court by applying for a charging order or other court order, or SEND HER TO PRISON!

 

My wife is not registered at my address, on any utility bills of any sort, nor is she employed as she recently graduated University. She is American, here on a visa, and we are planning on moving to the states in about a year so there is really nothing they could do on that list other than imprison her, it seems. I'm very worried, we don't have the money to pay this right now as I've recently enrolled in a debt management program to get our finances under control for us to move.

 

What can I do about this? Can we call them and explain the situation of her not receiving the letters due to her name being spelled incorrectly? I'm happy for us to pay the original fine, but this is outrageous for us right now. Will they really try to arrest her? Please, any help possible is welcome.

 

Hello and welcome to CAG.

 

I hope the transport guys will be along later with advice for you.

 

To my amateur eye, it looks as if you have returned letters about a court case that has gone ahead in your wife's absence. Is this finance unit part of HM Courts Service?

 

You need to deal with this and the guys will know what to do. You may be able to turn the clock back with a statutory declaration, but please wait for the people in the know to turn up to confirm or deny this.

 

Do you know what sentence was passed on your wife? I hope she hasn't got a criminal record now.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Hi, thank you for the reply. I don't think any sentence has been passed on her yet. I believe they are implying they will pass a sentence on her if this money isn't paid.

 

I forgot to add that it says we have a right to appeal to the Court against the Fine Officer's decision in writing within 10 working days, but it says include written evidence which we do not have, nor do I know what they'd even want in that area. This is her first offence so I don't know if that will help. I read on this website if we grovel in the letter than can help? We are very desperate.

 

I don't know if they are part of the HM Courts Service, it just says West Midlands Central Finance Unit.

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I found this on the interweb. Is that the address on the letter you have?

 

All Transfer of Fine Orders and Payments must be made to the following address:- The Central Finance Unit, Dept 05 CY, Victoria Law Courts, Corporation Street, Birmingham B4 6QF

 

If it is, I'd guess that they're looking for a fine to be paid. If you have no other paperwork, it might be worth a phone call to them to find out what's involved and which court the case was held at, if it's the case.

 

Then I believe you can ring the court involved to find out what happened at your wife's hearing, assuming there was one.

 

Otherwise you're going to spend the weekend wondering what's happened.

 

HB

Edited by honeybee13

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Yes, that is them. If I find out from them what court the case was held at, do I need to contact the court itself and see if they'll help me? Or do I just contact the Finance Unit itself? I apologise for the questions as you've said to wait for the transport guys to see this and help me, I'm just very ignorant when it comes to matters such as this.

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Hello again.

 

I would ring the finance unit and see if they can tell you a date on which a case was held and which court, and hopefully a reference for it. I just edited my last post to say then you can ring the court to find out what went on. You have an hour or two to try and find people.

 

The transport guys will be able to help once we know what you're facing, but for now I think we need information,

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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I unfortunately won't be able to call today as I'm about to be pulled into a meeting and haven't been able to get a hold of my wife so it will have to wait until Monday. When I do find out, can I come back onto this thread and post what I've learned or should I start a new thread? Thank you for the guidance so far.

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That's a shame. I'm sure you understand that advice will be limited as things stand, as it will be guesswork for now.

 

Yes, please come back when you know what's what. It's best to continue with this thread because it already has information about your problem. Thank you for asking. :)

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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I agree with HB (as in limited info, easier to advise when we hear the details).

 

A "no-bail" warrant certainly suggests this is from a fine for a criminal conviction, rather than a civil court case, so it sounds like "missed penalty fare, court case in her absence, found guilty in her absence, court fine unpaid".

 

A statutory declaration would "reset the clock", BUT which point in proceedings would you wish it reset to?.

It is unlikely you'll get things reset to the penalty fare stage (since you admit you knew a penalty fare was due).

 

You MIGHT get it reset to the court hearing stage, but :

a) is it likely you'll get anything other than "guilty"? (If a Bylaw prosecution and if she wasn't able to produce a valid ticket on demand,

b) the court might decline a statutory declaration given you received the court's correspondence but sent it back : how "wrong" were the details (can you give us an example : not using your wife's actual name! but an analogy)

So, if your wife's name is "Andrea Wilson" was the paperwork addressed to (as examples)

i) Andreas Wilson

ii) Andrea Wislon, or

iii) Andrew Smith. ?

The latter you might reasonably have sent back, but the former 2 a court might decide you should have acted upon and were trying to duck your responsibilities ......

 

What do you currently seek to conclude matters?

Once we know your expectations and if they are reasonable, and the full details, it will be easier to advise.

 

If your wife now has a criminal conviction (which a fine from a criminal case would suggest) - what is her immigration status, and would a conviction impact upon it?

Edited by BazzaS
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Hello, hopefully someone can help me. Many months ago, my wife was stopped at the train station by an inspector and couldn't find her ticket. She offered to pay the £20 fine then and there but was refused and told she'd get a letter in the mail to pay. Much time passed, we forgot about it, and then over the span of a few months, a couple of letters came for her, however her surname was spelled incorrectly so I assumed them to be junk mail which she gets a lot of, wrote "return to sender" and posted them back.

 

Finally another letter like this came and she decided to open it. Inside, was a notice from the West Midlands Central Finance Unit saying she now owed £338 and if she didn't pay in full, they will do one of many things, including:

 

Issue a warrant of distress for purpose of levying sum due; Register the account in the Register of Judgements, Orders and Fines, restricting credit options and loans and mortgages; Make an attachment of Earnings Order to deduct from her salary; Make a vehicle clamping order;

 

And the most worrying: Refer her case to court, which may decide to issue a warrant without bail for her arrest, increase her fine by 50%, enforce the case at the County Court or High court by applying for a charging order or other court order, or SEND HER TO PRISON!

 

My wife is not registered at my address, on any utility bills of any sort, nor is she employed as she recently graduated University. She is American, here on a visa, and we are planning on moving to the states in about a year so there is really nothing they could do on that list other than imprison her, it seems. I'm very worried, we don't have the money to pay this right now as I've recently enrolled in a debt management program to get our finances under control for us to move.

 

What can I do about this? Can we call them and explain the situation of her not receiving the letters due to her name being spelled incorrectly? I'm happy for us to pay the original fine, but this is outrageous for us right now. Will they really try to arrest her? Please, any help possible is welcome.

 

Reading this again, I have a further query.

 

If given a £20 penalty fare, one can't pay the penalty fare at the time to the rail staff, but are given a form to send in with the payment.

If no form was given but instead your wife was told "you'll receive a letter" : it sounds like this had escalated from a penalty fare to the member of staff thinking there was some element of fare evasion.

 

Usually the TOC then writes, asking for your comments, and based on any reply (or non-reply) decides on any prosecution.

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Wrote a long reply but I think it is probably unnecessary. Long story short, her immigration is fine, I've agreed for us to make payments on the fine as they said appealing makes it more expensive because it has to go to a higher court and I'd rather avoid all of that for her sake. I don't think there is much else we can do at this point. Thank you all for the advice.

Edited by Stvtv
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Bazza is spot-on.

 

There would have been at least one letter from the TOC (similar to the two that you say you marked 'Return to sender') and that would have been followed by a Summons to Court.

 

Just one thing, I'm intrigued as to how you knew the two letters that you did receive related to this matter if (because of the miss-spelling) you didn't open them and marked them 'Return to sender' thinking they were 'junk mail'.

 

I'm glad that you have arranged to pay the matter off without the highly expensive appeal, which would likely have incurred further substantial costs with no benefit for your wife.

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