Sunday, 10 August 2008

Criminal Record - Does it Matter?

So does it matter?

Bar Boy, has alerted me to the fact that Inner Temple will now no longer accept those who are convicted of fare evasion in any capacity, so don't get caught!

Solicitor said - "oh not really I have a few colleagues who have been in a similar situation"

Inner Temple says - if you have any previous criminal convictions your application to join us will have to put to a special body,

Other stuff on the internet says - a criminal conviction for something like fare evasion can damage your career, offers of recruitment can be withdrawn, all over a simple not paying for a bus fare.

Barristers and solictors are throughlly checked, and if I were to get a guilty conviction it would be spent after 5 years, however this would still show up after my "rehabiltation" period was over as I would have to disclose all previous convictions.

May be worrying about this a bit too much, then again may go jump off a bridge.


Oliver Smith said...

Just a random thought, why the heck is fare evasion a criminal offence in the first place? Should it not be down to the civil courts to solve this, as essnetially (the way I see it) it is a contractual dispute...

I know that is of no help to you at all, it's just confusing me.

Android said...

Hey Lost,

Do you have a previous conviction? :O

Lost said...

No Andro I currently don't however with this TFL business, it may be very likely that I will have.

The system is fraught with complete and utter dangers that a normal person who will be sent a court summons will have no idea about.

I am not entitled to legal aid for Fare evasion apparently, and I cannot afford someone to represent me. If i went to court and pleaded not guilty then I would have to have another hearing at the magistrates court, and if I lost which would be likely as magistrates always fall in favour with TFL then I would be doubley fucked because I would then have to pay for more costs for the time of the hearing and also calling up TFL witnesses.

TFL - have provided evidence against me that is an alleged confession, but I was never cautioned, obviously I would suggest contrary to PACE.

I am guilty of the offence - because its strict liability it does not matter whether or not I intended to pay or not, just the fact that my oyster card was not validated for that journey. I could have a defence of forgetfullness or panick, but both are frowned upon.

I am going to send a letter to TFL prosecution manager in a hope that they drop the case however if they don't I may have to plead guilty because i cannot afford to pay a lot of court costs.

If i plead guilty I will end up with a criminal record, I will have to declare it to any Inn of Court, and my application to join any Inn will have to go up to the Masters of the Bench. An offence of dishonestly is seriously frowned upon and looks very bad on my character.

I have not mentioned to TFL that I am a law student, and this will ruin my career and therefore is not appropriate or fair for a first time offender, who was not offered a penalty fare whatsoever.

This business is actually sending me nuts.

Oli Smith - I don't know why it is either, however they can charge you for fare evasion which would probably include deceit or some element of fraud.

Android said...

Ooops... If worst comes to worst, I hope you get a conditional discharge or something...

Lost said...

I've got an arguement about self incrimination under Pace and thats about it, the rest of it is pleading!!

Oliver Smith said...

Your PACE argument might well work, if you can find teh actual authority from within it.

From my basic knowledge of PACE (nothaving it up here) is that a statement made by an accused person oustide of caution is inadmissable as evidence.

Swiss Tony said...

Isn't PACE only guidance to the Police?

Lost, what actually happened? You got on a bus and your Oyster Card wasn't valid for the trip? Was that because it was empty, or outside the zone?

What was your reasoning?

I would ignore the sol. Just because her friends have done it, they may already be qualified. You still have the big hurdles to jump and it could be a problem.

I think the answer depends on what actually happened to you at the time. Fighting the admission of guilt is irrelevant as far as I can see. Bottom line is, did you try and dodge the fare?

Lost said...

Hi Swiss Tony,

I got on the bus, had £3.90.. didnt touch in.

My reasoning was that I had only been on a bus for a very short period of time before the bus inspectors got in, so would be unable to correct my mistake of forgetting to touch in..

I can't fight the admission of guilt thats true, but i can fight the circumstances, and the evidence put against me. It dosnt matter what I say really because they do not care whether or not I was intending to pay/forgot to pay, all that it matters is that I didn't pay.

So I've pleaded with them to drop it and I'll settle out of court with them.

When quesitioning suspects of fare doding they have to conform to PACE, so it relevant.

Mel said...

Sorry to hear of your predicament.

There was an article in the free london papers on Tuesday when I got back about this - a mother who had forgotten to touch in (easily done - I'm sure I have) on a bendy bus, she fought it all the way but didn't do her any good. Was found guilty by magistrates, paid reduced costs. I think it said something about it disappearing from your criminal record after 6 months, but I'm not sure what position that puts you in when it comes to filling in the declaration on forms.

I do remember a law professor talking about helping students who had been arrested for drunken fights etc, and they still got training contracts etc, so if you otherwise have a clean record I wouldn't be concerned. Have you sought the advice of all the free places, CAB etc? I mean, they're mostly useless in my experience but they may have experience with this. I think TFL said to the mother that if she had settled it earlier it wouldn't have been on her record.

And it is a criminal offence because it has been made so by's a public transport system, not a 'truly optional' method of transport like a plane or something.

Mel said...

There's the article, you might have seen it?

Lost said...

Hi Mel,

The local CAB office has a four hour queue apparently and I read on their notice that they can't tell me anything but can help me search for information.

And the prosecution of the mother is ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING. What a fucked up bunch of horrible twats TFL.

I have one friend who gets caught all the time and is very pretty so all she has to do is bat her eye lids at the inspectors and ask for a penalty fare...

The difference between me and her is that I will settle out of court!!! Still trying, but TFL never pick up their phone, or answer emails/letters.

Mel said...

I don't think I can pull off the batting of eyelashes thing - playing dumb just makes me look like a dumb foreigner, which is never a good position to have the benefit of legal doubt on your side! Plus I'm always too scruffy on public transport to pull it off. Oh I'll be honest, I look like the business end of a rhino most days!

I'm sure it will get sorted. Do keep track of all the phone calls, emails, letters you write to TFL. That can only help you later on if you need to show how much you've tried to sort it out.

The TFL really is applying the 'make a spectacle of one, tame the others' approach aren't they? I have been checked for tickets a lot more times on bendy buses than on any other bus. I'm otherwise a fan, because they're good when you're running late (as I always am ) but the ticket checkers are often rude.

Lost said...

Well I've written to them, only today to discover that actually they have MOVED, therefore the telephone number and address that I had trying to contact were both irrelevant.

Funnily enough they had moved 4 days after I had been sent my court summons.

It's only today 30 phone calls later that someone actually put me through to the new number and therefore got the email of the investigator/prosecutor, and now it will take a few more days for him to read through it and decide what to do.

What I dont understand is why you wouldn't put the NEW ADDRESS on the information included in the court summons, if you knew you were moving!!!!!!!!!!! Grr!!!!

Bar Boy said...

There was a case reported on this evening's news. An "evader" has had his conviction overturned on the grounds (I think) of no warnings being shown on the bus. The barrister was suggesting the case would have wide ranging ramifications. Might be worth keeping an eye out for any press reports.

BTW, your pretty friend sounds like a prize pratt.

Mel said...

Typical! I suppose they just carried on using the old stationary etc. That's the difference between govt bodies and private companies - in a law firm if they change the name or address, they make sure that everything old is thrown out, even if it's a waste of money/ resources - for the sake of clarity.

For a long time people would say that they couldn't fine you if there was no warning on both floors of the bus/ or on the tube. Can you remember if there was any sign up on the bus? There probably was - not the kind of thing you can be sure of so long ago! And if you're going to get that far....trial and TFL witnesses = costly.

Lost said...

Hi Bar Boy - nice gblog, ah my friend is nice lol just knows how to get out of bus fares, and we all know that at some point of our lives we have to try.

According to the evidence there were signs, on the bus and before i boarded.

I can't really afford a barrister though to take up my case lol

Mel - I've spoken to another london student and she says all her friends got off with a £200 once it went to court, and she may hook me up with a barrister or too she knows from debating..

I can't afford the court costs of bringing them in to state their oral evidence and then cross examine them, about what was there or not, but I guess I will have to if they dont settle out of court, might as well try and fight it ehy..

And with regards to stationary I will say that they have effectivey damaged my case, by prolonging it by not giving proper details, i'll say how unfair it is, how now it will be more expensive to bring witnesses to court..

They'll drop it I'm sure.

Bar Boy said...

Lost, just a thought, but have you considered getting yourself down to IT. Aside from seeking the Inn's views over the consequences of a conviction, someone might be able to hook you up with a keen 2nd six-er who will represent you pro-bono.

Lost said...

The advice Ive received from Mr Myerson QC, was that if I were a member of an Inn that my inn sponser would be someone I should ask for help.

However as I am not a member of an Inn.. not a lot I can do hmm, unless i ask them directly for help.

I know one other QC though fairly casually, he had a hand to play in arranging some work experiencec, and of course the barrister I shadowed, however neither am I acctually friends with and I think it would hurt my chances of applying to that set if I were to write to them or ask them for help.

Thanks Bar Boy for giving that link however its not about the light going green, its about forgetting to touch in.

I'll have to wait til Monday or Tuesday when they get round to reading my email. But thing is by the time THEY have gotten round to getting back to me and if they havent dropped the charges, and I still havent filled in my court summons form, then I'll be likely to be royally fucked if I decide I want representation.

barmaid said...

Hello Lost,
You say in an earlier post that after 6 months TFL have decided to prosecute. Is it 6 months? If so, they maybe out of time for chasing a prosecution for a summary offence. Proceedings have to be brought within 6 months of being charged, might be worth looking into.

Law Minx said...


If you're in London, have you tried contacting the Free Representation Unit? I know that they would not be likely to take on your case given their remit, but they may be able to point you in the direction of a Solicitor Advocate or Counsel who would take your case pro bono.
Just a thought.

Lost said...

Hi Barmaid,
They served the court summons on me 6 days short of the 6 month period, interesting though that I could bring that up, it's pretty late to be serving someone with that kind of offence.

TFL still havent written back to me.

Hi Lawminx - i am still really hoping to settle this out of court! So I'm unsure if I should now instruct counsel, or whatever hmm just incase the bastards turn around and say that they will prosecute me.

Mel said...

If you have nobody 'on your case' it really would be worthwhile going to the CAB, even if it means a long queue if you can't afford to hire anyone. They represent people and sounds like you have some deadlines to meet and have to decide which way to go.

At this stage, I would have thought it would be more useful to try and get some advice to help resolve this from any solicitors/barristers you know (unless you really want to apply to them). Have you approached your personal tutor/ other people in the law faculty?

I would definitely start mentioning fairness issues - the length of time they've taken to prosecute, the mis-handling of your communications etc. It isn't likely to change the outcome itself but may go in your favour when it comes to costs - I'd have thought.

It's a bit ridiculous really!

Lost said...

Hi Mel,

I think i realistically have til the end of this week in order to settle out of court. If they take the view that they will still prosecute me after all that I have said, and pleaded for them not to, then they are evil heartless bastards!!!!

I'll nervously wait till the end of this week for some results, and then i'll start to beg everyone!

Lost said...

Thanks guys for the info.

I have pre-emptively emailed a few people including the FRU and a local law centre.

I've had advise from Simon Myerson QC as well of what I could do.

Also a friend of a friend is a criminal barrister, so not all hope is lost!

Background checking said...

criminal records is now easily erased by expungement.

shamsa said...

Could You please give me the email address where you have been sending e mails and the postal address. I will be very thank full to you.