Expert local fare evasion solicitors.
If you are accused of fare evasion, you could end up with a criminal conviction if you do not defend yourself or if your defence is inadequate or flawed. This can have serious implications on your life as you will have a criminal record that will show up on enhanced DBS checks for eleven years. For some regulated professions, this may mean that you will lose your job or be unable to progress in your career. If you have a criminal record you will usually have to disclose this when applying for a job.
At Solicitors Near Me, we can connect you with hand-picked local solicitors with expertise in fare evasion cases. They will start work straightaway to try and resolve matters out of court so that you can avoid a criminal conviction.
You are highly recommended to take action promptly. If you ignore a letter or notice advising you of potential legal action, you could be convicted by a Magistrates’ Court in your absence. The maximum penalty is £1,000. You will also be required to pay the court costs as well as compensation to the transport authority.
What Is Fare Evasion?
Fare evasion can happen in a number of ways, including when:
- Someone else’s ticket is used
- A ticket is not purchased
- A ticket for a cheaper journey or seat is used
- Someone else’s discount travel card, such as an Oyster Card or Freedom Pass, is used
- The ticket was for a shorter journey
- A turnstile was bypassed without a ticket being purchased
Where part of the journey has been paid for but not all it, this still constitutes fare evasion.
Fare evasion is what is known as a ‘strict liability’ offence. This means that there is no scope to say that you made a mistake or that you did not realise you had the wrong ticket.
What Happens If You Are Accused Of Fare Evasion?
You may be asked for your details during the journey by an inspector or revenue officer. It is a criminal offence to fail to provide them with this. If you are accused of fare evasion, you may receive a letter asking for written confirmation of your personal details and advising you that you may be prosecuted.
You should consider seeking legal advice at this point as the sooner a solicitor can start representing you, the easier it may be to negotiate a different outcome.
You will be given a deadline by which you should respond. If you do not respond in time, you are likely to be convicted in your absence. The deadline could be as little as one week and it is crucial not to miss this date. It is advisable to ask your solicitor to deal with the response on your behalf.
We can put you in touch with solicitors who specialise in railway fare evasion and other types of fare evasion who know how best to make the right representations.
At this point, it is still possible to avoid prosecution if you are able to convince the transport authority that bringing a court case against you would not be proportionate or not in the public interest.
Defence For Fare Evasion
Rail companies may choose to prosecute you under bye-laws or under the Regulation of Railways Act 1889. If you are prosecuted under the Act, then the transport authority will need to prove that you intended to avoid paying the fare. If you had a ticket but your ticket was not for your full journey, your solicitor may be able to argue that you did not intend to avoid paying.
If you are prosecuted under bye-laws, it is not necessary for the prosecution to establish that you had this intention, it is simply enough to show that you did not pay all or some of the fare for your journey.
Our solicitors understand this situation and are frequently still able to settle matters without a criminal conviction. They will be able to enter into negotiations with the transport authority on your behalf to try and agreed on an out of course settlement or the case being dropped.
They have a high level of expertise and are used to working to resolve matters before they reach court. They will make persuasive arguments on your behalf and do all they can to ensure that a case is not pursued through the criminal courts.
Penalties For Fare Evasion
In some cases, the transport authority may decide to simply issue a Penalty Fare. You should pay this straightaway and this will generally be an end of the matter.
They have the right to decide to take a tougher stance however and they may opt to start the process of bringing a legal case against you in court. In this case, you may receive a Single Justice Procedure Notice. This is routinely issued in minor criminal cases. You will have up to 21 days to respond with either a guilty or not guilty plea. If you do not respond, the case will be heard anyway and you are likely to be found guilty and fined. You will also have a criminal record.
You will be advised whether you need to attend court or not. In some cases, it may not be necessary. It is important to seek legal advice promptly if you wish to avoid a conviction however. Relying on turning up at court on the day of the hearing and attempting to make your case is not likely to be successful.
If you are convicted of fare evasion either by the Magistrates’ Court or because you have pleaded guilty to the offence, you can receive a fine of up to £1,000 plus costs and compensation. You will also have a criminal record which will stay with you for a long time.
If your solicitor is able to deal with the matter before it reaches a hearing, you may simply be required to pay the amount due on the ticket plus a contribution to the costs of pursuing the matter.
Legal Representation For Fare Evasion
The sooner you can speak to a solicitor about dealing with fare evasion, the longer they will have to prepare a case on your behalf. This will give you a good chance of avoiding a criminal record.
Contact local fare evasion solicitors
At Solicitors Near Me we have a strong network of fare evasion lawyers with an excellent success rate in dealing with fare evasion charges. We can put you in touch with a local expert who will be able to take on your case and start work at once to try and have the allegations withdrawn.