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Fare Evasion Newsflash! Do you need assistance?

View profile for Marvin Roberts
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There has been a large increase in cases of fare evasion prosecutions. As a result we have found that there have been a large increase in enquiries and cases relating to fare evasion. This is our general guide on how to deal with this issue.

In recent times rail companies have equated persistent fare evasion with fraud. Consequently, they are taking a hard-line approach. Whilst this approach does catch those who intentionally travel without paying their fare, it also affects the ordinary members of the public who may have failed to notice that their Oyster card has not been read or who may have inadvertently failed to pay for their fare at the point of entry to the transport system. 

You will probably have seen teams of ticket inspectors at train stations and on buses, accompanied by police officers, who check everyone’s tickets and pull those who have not paid the proper fare aside. Failure to pay the correct fare is not always the result of intention to get a free ride, it sometimes is the result of basic errors in tapping in or tapping out, or it may be an honest mistake in picking up your younger sister’s student Oyster card instead of your own.

Fare evasion is a strict liability offence. This means that the offence is committed as soon as you walk through a barrier or get onto a bus without paying the correct fare.  The offence does not require you to intend to commit the offence, it can be committed follow a basic error or mistake. As a result of your error or mistake, you can be left with a dark blemish on your character; a criminal conviction for dishonesty. 

The recent move to prosecute those of us who are found to have not paid the correct fare will affect many of those employed in positions of trust or who are required to provide DBS checks at frequent intervals, especially where there are likely to be contact with children during your employment. A convictions may affect those, for example, who are trying to break into the legal profession and so a conviction for an offence of dishonesty no matter how small, might affect their chances of employment in the future.

When you receive a notice from the prosecuting authority you are usually given 3 alternatives; 

1. Plead guilty in writing, 

2. Plead guilty and to attend court for plea in mitigation or 

3. Plead not guilty and have a date set for a trial. 

You may very well be thinking that prosecuting someone for a mistake is really unfair. We at Wainwright & Cummins LLP make it our business to tackle circumstances we believe to be unfair. Our team will act on your behalf to try to persuade the prosecuting authorities not to proceed with the prosecution against you in the first place. 

We will make vigorous and thorough written representations to the prosecuting authorities inviting them to discontinue the prosecution against you at an early stage. Each representation is tailored to the needs of each individual and deals with each case in a sensitive and considerate way. In order to achieve success we may offer undertakings on our client’s behalf to ensure that the incident of failing to pay the correct fare does not arise again. An undertaking is a promise that it will not happen again. We also suggest that you offer to meet the costs of the prosecution brought by the authority. This is so they understand that you recognise the importance of the issue and ensure they are not out of pocket by brining the prosecution in the first place. If the matter went to court, it is likely that the court would order you to pay the cost of the prosecutions in any event. 

In cases where you are in professional employment this assistance may be invaluable. We will not be able to guarantee success but our long-standing experience in making representations would be of great benefit to those who may not know where to start if you were to make your own representations. Our expert and specialist advice at the commencement of proceedings is important to the likelihood of there being any success in representations made on your behalf.

So if you are stopped by an Inspector.

Be calm and compliant. Be honest with him or her and if you have another means of payment (for example if you have a bank card with sufficient funds), offer to make the payment immediately at the barriers or at an excess fare window, if one is available. This shows that you have the means to pay and have made a mistake in not ensuring you have tapped in properly. Show willingness to pay the correct fare. 

Please note that ticket inspectors often make mistakes and this information may be of use at a later stage. If you believe that you have paid the correct fare and wish to challenge an allegation that you have not, it might be an idea to record your conversation if you have the means to do so. This will help us to note their responses when gathering evidence for representing you if decide to take the matter to trial or when making representations on your behalf.

When the authorities write to you, please do not ignore it. You should contact us immediately as it is at this point when you need our help. If you ignore the initial correspondence, you may receive a summons to court. If the matter gets to court, it might be too late to make successful representations to the prosecuting authority to discontinue the prosecution. 

What can we do?

We will listen to you and support you throughout the process. Initially, we will make written representations to the prosecuting authority, explaining your circumstances and the reasons why you came to be in the position where you are being prosecuted for fare evasion. We will seek to persuade the prosecuting authority that this is a one off incident that will not be repeated, meaning that prosecution at this stage is not necessary. 

We are also happy to represent you if the matter goes to court. It is your choice whether to plead guilty or not guilty but we will give you advice about how to achieve the best outcome  and the likelihood of you being acquitted after a trial. 

If the matter goes to court and you decide to plead not guilty, we will represent you during your trial, put forward your case and do our best to achieve an acquittal. If you decide to plead guilty, we will represent you during the court hearing. This means you can leave the talking to us. Our advocates will mitigate on your behalf to achieve a favourable outcome. 

Our lawyers are extremely experienced in all forms of criminal law. We are friendly, approachable and genuine in our efforts to help.

We are happy to deal with any fare evasion enquiry.

And how much is it?

As each individual case has very individual circumstances we give an estimate of our legal costs based on the amount of time required to assist you. Our prices are very competitive because we are committed to helping you without breaking your pocket.

Does this information help?

If you have any enquiries to make with regard to this information, please do not hesitate to contact us.  Telephone us on 0207 737 9339 or use our online enquiry service.

We will be very happy to help you.