BSQ Success in Indecent Images Crown Court Acquittal

Another success for BSQ’s private crime department in an indecent images prosecution. This case also highlights the need for defendants in these cases to seek advice from specialist lawyers who are experienced in this field.  

Our client, a business owner of good character had been charged with various counts of making i.e. downloading indecent images contrary to section 1(1)(a) of the Protection of Children Act 1978.  The client sought alternative legal advice as he was unhappy with the quality of service provided by his previous lawyers and instructed BSQ. The case was listed for a Crown Court trial at this stage.  

Having reviewed the evidence and consulted our defence forensic resident experts, BSQ partner Roger Sahota drafted representations to the Crown submitting that the evidence disclosed did not present a case to answer based on the clients stated explanation that he was engaged in the mass and indiscriminate downloading of large amounts of material from the internet.

The CPS accepted these representations and withdrew all charges, offering no evidence at the Crown Court in relation to all counts on the indictment.

Our private crime team has a niche in representing professionals accused of indecent images offences. If you require advice in connection with a criminal prosecution please contact our London offices.

BSQ instructed in Potential Landmark Police Powers Challenge

BSQ has been instructed in a potentially ground breaking judicial review of police powers on behalf of a media company.

The case concerns police powers to effect the search of premises where a search warrant has not been obtained and the police purport to rely on their powers of arrest pursuant so s32(2)(b) or s18(5) of PACE 1984. Case law in this area is extremely limited.

Proceedings have been issued in the High Court. Counsel instructed is Rupert Bowers QC of Doughty Street Chambers and the BSQ partner presiding is Roger Sahota. BSQ have been involved in a number of judicial review challenging the exercise of police powers.

Our private crime team has extensive experience of advising claimants in cases where we have successfully quashed search warrants and challenged the legality of police arrests, including most notably, Lord Hanningfield (BSQ partner Daniel Godden acting) and R (on the application of F) v Blackfriars Crown Court [2014] EWHC 1541 (Admin) (Roger Sahota and Rupert Bowers QC) in addition to many other cases which have successfully settled prior to a full hearing.

Roger is the author of a Solicitors Guide to Search Warrants published in the Law Society Gazette.

If you require advice in connection with a criminal prosecution please contact our London offices.

 

 

 

 

BSQ Court of Appeal Quash Conviction and Acquittal on Re-trial

BSQ Serious Crime partner Goran Stojsavljevic has recently secured the quashing of a conviction on appeal and an acquittal on re-trial in an important firearms prosecution.

Following his conviction for firearms offences Goran was approached by BL who was unhappy with the service offered by his former legal aid lawyers having been sentenced to 6 years 8 month imprisonment and wished to instruct lawyers privately to appeal it.

The Court of Appeal held that the court erred in admitting extensive evidence of BL’s bad character and ordered a re-trial.   Represented by James Walker of Carmelite Chambers BL was acquitted on all counts by a jury at Leicester Crown Court.  

If you require representation in connection with a criminal prosecution please contact our London offices.

Roger Sahota Speaks at Cambridge University Economic Symposium

BSQ Partner Roger Sahota was invited to speak at the 35th Cambridge Economic Symposium at Jesus College, Cambridge last Friday.  

Roger’s presentation was well received during a plenary session focussing on “The Whistleblower Revolution and the ‘New Paradigm’ of Corporate Fraud Enforcement” and featured a review of the possible civil and criminal ramifications that may follow a whistleblower disclosure in the UK.  

BSQ Success as Competition Appeal Tribunal Decides Preliminary Issue in UKRS Case

Acting on behalf of UKRS Ltd, BSQ secured a significant judgment for our clients in the CAT. A press release from UKRS Ltd follows below. Roger Sahota was the lead partner acting for UKRS Ltd in the case. 

PRELIMINARY JUDGEMENT AGAINST NSAR IN TRIBUNAL HEARING

One of the UK’s leading training companies for Network Rail’s Sentinel Scheme has won a significant preliminary issue judgement against NSAR at a recent hearing of the Competition Appeal Tribunal.  The case began before the Tribunal last October when UKRS Training Limited sought an interim injunction against NSAR to prevent the implementation of its decision, following a dismissed appeal, to suspend their accreditation for three months under the Rail Training Accreditation Scheme.

This followed initial allegations, all denied by UKRS, of breaches of various different rules, following a series of audit visits by NSAR.

In the competition law proceedings UKRS alleges that NSAR holds a dominant position in the market for accreditation services to Sentinel card training providers as it is the only body with power to grant the relevant accreditation. UKRS contends that there was procedural unfairness and/or erroneous findings as to breach of the various rules, which amount to discrimination by NSAR; and further that the decision to suspend constitutes a refusal to supply. On either or both bases, since its conduct was not objectively justified, NSAR was said to be in breach of the Chapter II prohibition in competition law.

In asking for a hearing on a preliminary issue NSAR sought to prove it was not an undertaking for the purpose of competition law. However, the Competition Appeal Tribunal, presided over by the Hon. Mr Justice Roth, concluded in a 29-page report of the hearing that NSAR were indeed an undertaking for the purpose of competition law. The case is now set to proceed to a full hearing about the substantive complaint made by UKRS.

In a letter, following the publication of its decision of the preliminary issue, the President directed both parties to “seek to agree the terms of an order including directions for the future conduct of the proceedings.”

An agreed form of order, or alternatively any submissions in that regard if the parties are unable to reach agreement, have to be sent to the Registry email address by 4pm on 19 July 2017.

The full report of the preliminary hearing can be found on theCompetition Appeal Tribunal website here                                                     

 

 

Indecent Images Prosecution Discontinued

In another notable result for our private crime department we have been notified that the police have discontinued an indecent images investigation.  Our client, a prominent business figure remains a man of good character. Pre-charge BSQ made a range of enquiries with defence defence forensic experts and leading counsel instructed to advise our client.

If you need advice in an indecent images prosecution please contact our London office.

Court of Appeal Reviews Sentencing Guidelines in Downloading Indecent Images Cases

BSQ partner Roger Sahota comments on a recent important Court of Appeal decision - R v Pinkerton [2017] EWCA Crim 38 - in which the Court reviewed the operation of sentencing guidelines in downloading indecent images cases. In P the Judge had sentenced an offender taking a starting point beyond the Sentencing Guidelines Council (“SGC”) guidelines because of the particularly depraved nature of images found and the harm this type of behaviour caused.  

Background

Amended sentencing guidelines for indecent image offences were introduced on 1 April 2014. They replaced the old guidelines which had been in force since 14 May 2007. The new simplified regime saw a reduction from the five levels of categories introduced in the 2007 guidelines to 3 levels of categories as follows;

Category A (Images involving penetrative sexual activity and images involving sexual activity with an animal or sadism) incorporates the former Levels 4 & 5.

Category B (Images involving non-penetrative sexual activity) incorporates the former Levels 2 & 3. There is accordingly no longer a distinction between non-penetrative sexual activity between adults and children and between children.

Category C images are Indecent Images not falling within A or B.

Decision

The main points arising from the decision are summarised below. It is important to note that the decision is unlikely to change the general sentencing practice in the Crown Court where first time offenders not engaged in distribution remain likely to receive non-custodial sentences. The Court did however criticise the approach that the Judge took both in the procedure adopted during sentencing and the way the sentence was calculated. Notably;

1.     While the Court of Appeal upheld the sentence imposed, it felt it inappropriate for the judge to have strayed beyond the upper range of the sentencing guidelines. The SGC guidelines were created after extensive research and consultation. It was not for police officers and judges to create their own separate categories above and beyond those created by the SGC as the dangers of inconsistency and subjectivity were all too obvious.

2.     The SGC guidelines for downloading cases took into account concerns this behaviour caused harm and in particular indirect harm – downloading played a part in perpetuating a market for this type of material – and Judges should not give undue weight to this factor.

3.     Prosecutors and police officers were warned against providing the Court with their own analysis of the images but were instead directed to rely on the detailed description of representative images to be found on the Child Abuse Image database. The database was a national resource containing an approved and trusted grade based on analysis by three police forces uniquely identifying images commonly found in these cases.

4.     Given the existence of the database, it was unnecessary for judges to view the materials produced in these cases save in exceptional circumstances

Conclusion

BSQ welcomes an end to the worrying trend for prosecutors and police officers to provide their own gloss and commentary when providing detailed descriptions of images found during sentencing. By providing greater clarity in the application of the guidelines this decision will hopefully result in more consistency in the sentences handed down for the most serious cases and enable lawyers to better advise their clients of the possible outcomes.

 

New Corporate Tax Facilitation Offence - Part 2 of our Criminal Finances Act 2017 Summary

Roger Sahota's summary of the new corporate tax facilitation offence as published in this weeks Law Society Gazette. 

Corporate Facilitation of Tax Evasion

In recent times the Government has oft-pronounced its intention to target the facilitators and enablers of tax evasion. This new offence is directed at holding companies to account for the actions of their employees in facilitating tax evasion or assisting customers to evade tax. Only a relevant body i.e. a legal entity such as a company or partnership (wherever incorporated or organised) can commit the offence, not an individual. Two new failure to prevent offences apply – failure to prevent facilitation of domestic tax evasion and failure to prevent facilitation of foreign tax evasion. Where a person “associated with” a relevant body commits a foreign or UK tax facilitation evasion offence the relevant body will be vicariously liable. An “associated person’ is broadly defined to include an employee, agent or any other person performing services on or behalf of the relevant body. Any prosecution requires the consent of the DPP or Director of the SFO. Potential fines are unlimited.

 UK Offence (s.45)

The s.45 facilitation offence is founded on tax evasion crimes such as cheating the revenue or other fraudulent evasion offences.  Strict liability offences are excluded. Dishonest intent for the underlying offence as well as dishonest facilitation must be proved. According to the Explanatory Notes accompanying the Bill, aggressive avoidance falling short of evasion or inadvertent or negligent facilitation is not criminalised. In practice, evidence of dishonesty could include concealment, misrepresentation, non-disclosure or even recklessness in the form of turning a blind eye to wrongdoing.

Foreign Offence (s.46)

The s46 offence criminalises non-UK tax evasion by a UK company. It applies where the relevant body has a nexus with the UK, the conduct concerned amounts to an offence where the tax is levied and a dual criminality test is satisfied. Whether the HMRC should have the power to bring a prosecution in the UK for tax evasion in a foreign jurisdiction is a topic of some debate.

Reasonable Prevention Procedures Defence

Modelled on s.7(2) of the Bribery Act 2010, the Act provides for a defence where at the time of the offence the relevant body has in force “reasonable prevention procedures.” HMRC draft guidance is available and states that “If a relevant body can demonstrate that it has put in place a system of reasonable prevention procedures that identifies and mitigates its tax evasion facilitation risks, then prosecution is unlikely as it will be able to raise a defence.”

Much controversy has arisen over the new tax offences. Traditionally, to hold a company liable for the illegal acts of directors, employees or agents it was necessary to show that the individuals responsible represented it’s ‘directing mind or will.’ This approach was criticised for making it too difficult to prosecute companies, particularly large- or medium-sized ventures where the directors are some distance removed from the day-to-day actions of their employees. In the one words of one academic, this identification doctrine ‘works best in cases where it is needed least (i.e. small businesses) and works least where it is needed most’.

In expanding the scope of criminal liability for companies accused of facilitating tax evasion many observers believe that the Government has swung the pendulum too far the other way. Rather than focusing on attributing the criminal act to the company, the offences focus on and criminalise the company’s failure to prevent those who act for or on its behalf from facilitating tax evasion. Because the Act is broadly drafted it is capable of wide application. It has the potential to criminalise inadvertent facilitation in cases where senior management were unaware of and uninvolved in any criminal conduct by employees. Liability also arises even where no benefit has accrued to the company.

Time will tell if the HMRC has the resources to prosecute such cases successfully. What is clear is that the “failure to prevent” model employed here and in the Bribery Act 2010 appears to the preferred choice of Government in its efforts to reframe the law on corporate criminal liability to meet the political imperative of corporate accountability. In March this year a MOJ consultation on proposals for a new corporate liability offence for economic crime came to a close. It should come as no surprise to practitioners if the legislation proposed for this new offence, expected to be announced in the Autumn, adopts a similar format. If so, companies will have an even greater incentive in future to ensure that their compliance procedures adequately address any risk of exposure to economic crime by their employees.

 

 

Unexplained Wealth Orders and Changes to POCA - Criminal Finances Act 2017 - Part 1

Part 1 of Roger Sahota's two-part summary of the provisions of the Criminal Finances Act 2017 as published in the Law Society Gazette on the 23rd May 2017. 

Introduction

The Criminal Finances Act received royal assent on the 27th April 2017. It represents a radical overhaul of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA 2002”) anti- money laundering and confiscation regime. Notably, the Act also creates a new offence that is relevant to solicitors and other professionals providing any form of tax advice. The main provisions are summarised below and will take effect when commencement regulations are announced.

Unexplained Wealth Orders

Unexplained Wealth Orders (“UWO”) In the aftermath of the Panama papers scandal the Government has given law enforcement agencies new powers to seize suspected criminal property without bringing a prosecution. Two groups of individuals – Politically Exposed Persons (‘PEP’s) or those involved or associated with serious crime can be made subject to a UWO. In the case of PEP's no proof of a link to criminal behaviour is required. Orders for disclosure of the nature and extent of their interest in property and an explanation as to how they obtained it can be made by the High Court where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that a person holds assets disproportionate to their known income. Failing to comply with an order can mean that the property is deemed to be “recoverable” for the purposes of the civil recovery provisions of Part V of POCA 2002.  

Knowing or recklessly providing a false or misleading response is a criminal offence which carries a maximum two-year prison sentence.   Amending the original proposals, the House of Lords lowered the threshold so that a UWO can be made with property valued at £50,000 rather than £100,000. Where it can be shown that any party has suffered loss as a result of serious default on the part of the enforcement authority applying for the UWO after an interim freezing order is made, compensation may be available (new ss362A-T to POCA 2002 inserted.)

Disclosure Orders

Disclosure Orders Powers to order disclosure of relevant information or documents in a confiscation or SFO investigation are now extended to money laundering enquiries (s357 of POCA 2002 amended.)

SARs

Suspicious Activity Reports and Sharing Information Where the NCA refuses consent following an SAR authorised disclosure by a bank or other regulated body the 31 day “moratorium period” can be extended by a court in up to 31 day periods to a maximum additional 186 days. This will allow more time for law enforcement agencies to conduct their enquiries (ss.335 and ss.336 of POCA 2002 amended.) The Act also provides a legal gateway for regulated bodies to share information where suspicions of money laundering arise and the NCA is notified (new ss339ZB of POCA inserted). NCA officers have new powers to apply to the magistrates court for “further information orders” from regulated persons following a SAR. Client confidentiality will not be breached on compliance but LPP applies (new ss339ZH-ZK of POCA inserted).  

New Police Forfeiture Powers

Forfeiture of Moveable Objects and Bank and Building Society Accounts Precious metals, stones, watches, artistic works, face-value vouchers and postage stamps that can be used to move value across international borders are designated as “listed assets” and are the subject of new civil powers similar to the cash seizure and forfeiture scheme of Chapter 3 of Part 5 of POCA. Where there is a reasonable suspicion that such property is the proceeds of crime or that it will be used in unlawful conduct new powers to search, seize and apply for forfeiture apply (new ss303B-Z inserted.)  Similar powers allow for the freezing and forfeiture of monies in bank and building society accounts on application to a Magistrates Court subject to a minimum balance of £1,000 (new ss303Z1-Z19 inserted.)

Civil Recovery

The FCA and HMRC are given powers to bring Part V POCA 2002 civil recovery (i.e. non-conviction based asset forfeiture) proceedings in the High Court in addition to the NCA, SFO and CPS.

City Professional Cleared of Assault

Following an intervention and pre-charge representations by BSQ’s private client department partner Roger Sahota a police investigation into an allegation of assault against our client, a senior city finance professional has been discontinued.

Counsel instructed was Alexander Cameron QC of 3 Raymond Buildings.

Call our Mayfair offices on 0203 858 0851 if you require advice in connection with a criminal, regulatory or fraud prosecution.  

Immigration Adviser Cleared in Regulatory Prosecution

BSQ’s private client department reports another success. Our client, a legal professional was cleared of all charges in the Crown Court following a criminal prosecution brought by the Office of Immigration Services Commissioner (‘OISC’).

Counsel instructed was Siobhan Grey QC of Doughty Street Chambers together with BSQ partner Goran Stojsavljevic.  

Call our Mayfair offices on 0203 858 0851 if you require advice in connection with a criminal, regulatory or fraud prosecution.  

 

Tougher Penalties For Internet Piracy – Digital Economy Act 2017

Illegal downloading and file sharing is now rife. So far however no one in Britain has been fined and prosecuted for it. That position is unlikely to change because of new legislation that came into force yesterday. The Digital Economy Act 2017 was rushed through Parliament without the usual debating amendments to receive royal assent before Westminster closes down for the general election.

By way of an amendment to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 the maximum penalty for infringing copyright online and making it available is increased from two years to ten years. The ingredients of the offence have also been changed. The offence now requires that a person must either intend to make a monetary gain for himself or another, or know or have reason to believe that his actions will cause loss to the owner of the right or expose the owner to a risk of loss.

Strictly speaking this wording could catch the average student user downloading a torrent of their favourite show. However, targeting individual end users is not the Government’s intention. Instead, the legislation is aimed at pirates who leak and distribute copyright-infringing material for the general public.

So at present there appears to be no plans to criminalise internet users who regularly download from file sharing sites. Rather than enforcement action they are likely to receive educational warning emails from their ISPs who have signed up to the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme.

But they should guard against complacency. The Federation Against Copyright Theft has warned that “While end-users are not our primary target, they may get swept up in one of our operations and become part of the whole criminal investigation, which could lead to prosecution alongside suppliers, retailers and importers.”

 

Private Client Success - CPS Discontinue Case Against Professional Client

BSQ can report another successful outcome for our private client department. A decision was taken by the CPS this week to discontinue proceedings against our client, a qualified and regulated legal professional following an intervention by BSQ partner Goran Stojsvlejvic.

Counsel instructed was Siobhan Grey QC of Doughty Street Chambers.  Consequently, our client is free to continue in practice without a stain on their reputation.  

BSQ Election Briefing – Will BREXIT mean the end of the EAW?

If the opinion pollsters are right there will be a Tory landslide at the impending General election. But, as we await publication of the party’s election manifesto, what position will a new Conservative administration take on the EAW with BREXIT looming? BSQ partner Roger J Sahota considers the implications for Britain’s continued membership of the EAW after June 8th 2017.  

Tory divisions over the EAW system run deep and generally follow the BREXIT fault line. Brexiteers object in principle to the notion of a harmonised single market. They are also up in arms about the Europeans Council’s concomitant ambition of creating an “area of freedom, security and justice without frontiers.” The principle of “mutual recognition” i.e. that EU members should recognise the decisions of each other’s courts gives life to this notion and underpins the EAW.

Mutual recognition in practice means that UK courts have very limited scope to refuse an EAW request. They for example are not entitled to examine the evidence supporting a request which is one of the main bones of contention for the Tory right.  David Davis, now the Minister for BREXIT summed up the Eurosceptic response when he said that “there were some countries like Romania that just do not uphold the same standards of justice that we take for granted in the UK.”

Believing there is no implied parity of justice across the EU, BREXIT campaigners call for UK courts to have greater flexibility to refuse to extradite to countries where fundamental rights cannot be guaranteed than the present law allows. They cite evidence of a lack of judicial transparency or independence or doubts over the right to call evidence in many EU countries.  

They also complain that the new EAW system removed many of the safeguards under the old law before the Extradition Act 2003. No longer is the requesting state required to produce the evidence on which an arrest warrant had been based. Whether the evidence presented is insufficient to prosecute by our standards is now irrelevant.  Avenues for an appeal were also very much reduced.

As for the Government’s position on remaining within the EAW framework, Britain reaffirmed it’s commitment to it under the Coalition Government in 2014. After much controversy, the UK completed the process of having opted out of EU criminal law measures adopted before the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, before opting back in to some of them including the EAW (see BSQ Briefing)

Now, our continued participation in the system will soon be up for grabs. Negotiations over BREXIT are bound to include talks that will determine how Britain and the EU will co-operate on justice and security issues.   

Interestingly, Home Secretary Amber Rudd seemed to suggest some ambivalence in the Government’s commitment to the EAW recently. In an EAW debate in the House of Commons she said that the Government wanted to secure a system that was “as effective” as the EAW post Brexit.

That door seemed to close on the 6th March 2017 however when Rudd then confirmed in another parliamentary debate that it was a British priority to remain in the EAW system.

Noting that it was the then Home Secretary Theresa May that fought to retain the EAW at the time of the Lisbon Treaty opt out in 2014, anti-EAW campaigners may well be dissapointed when the Tories confirms their stance on the issue. Retaining the EAW is likely to be a central plank of the Government’s post BREXIT settlement.

India Extradition – Closing Submissions 

After a week long hearing before the Westminster Magistrates Court, closing submissions have concluded in BSQ’s contested fraud extradition case concerning a request made by the Government of India. The Court heard evidence from our Indian legal expert and Indian officials concerning Indian legal procedure and prison conditions in response to our submissions these were not in conformity with international human rights standards. 

Judgement is expected in May.

Extradition requests from India are rare and the decision in this case will be of interest to extradition and international criminal lawyers. Roger Sahota is the instructing solicitor. 

Roger Sahota appears at ICTY War Crimes Appeal

BSQ partner Roger Sahota is due to appear at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) next week to deliver closing submissions in the appeal against sentence and conviction of Berislav Pusic.  Roger is the only Solicitor to have appeared in a contested trial at the ICTY. Roger also features on the list of counsel eligible to practice at the ICC. 

Mr Pusic is one of six Accused standing trial in the case of Prlic et al, one of the longest running cases at the ICT. The original trial began in 2006 and finished in 2011.

Roger has been instructed throughout as counsel for Mr Pusic.

 

BSQ Briefing - Indecent Images - Time to reform the Law?

For more information about our indecent images specialisation visit our indecent images practice page

Simon Bailey, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for child protection made headlines last week when he called for law enforcement agencies to focus their resources on pursuing high risk offenders who viewed indecent images of children online. He complained that with 400 men a month arrested for this type of conduct, police forces were stretched to breaking point in dealing with these cases.

In making these remarks Mr Bailey drew a valuable distinction between those individuals whose online activities are targeted at making contact with children with a view to committing serious sexual offences and those who are not.

There can be no argument that law enforcement agencies should be vigilant and use all available means to apprehend those criminals who pose a risk of contact offending.

But, from our experience the vast majority of those individuals accused of viewing or downloading indecent images do not pose such a risk.

BSQ’s criminal defence team has extensive experience of representing individuals who are either under investigation or facing prosecution having viewed illegal material online. By and large our clients are professional individuals with no previous criminal history. Normally the police will be alerted to their online activities from reports submitted by their ISP providers, not from concerns from any chatroom activity. There is often little indication from their personal or family background that would suggest they pose any risk of contact offending. Many times their behaviour can be described as solitary and compulsive – typically an individual may have downloaded huge amounts of adult legal porn and other material as well as illegal child porn. They may not have viewed all of it. There will be no history of social media or other online interaction with children.

Sadly, this type of behaviour sadly appears to far more widespread that the headline statistic of 400 arrests a month would suggest. A recent report by the NSPCC suggests the number of individuals looking at such images could exceed half a million and constituted a "social emergency". The scale of the problem explains why some police forces, rather than arresting suspects in these cases are issuing cease and desist warning notices to first time offenders.

Against this background we believe efforts to divert those offenders who do not pose a risk of contact offending away from the criminal justice system to treatment within the community deserves urgent attention.

More immediately, amending the sentencing guidelines for the offence of possession or downloading of illegal child porn (p.75-81,  which makes no specific reference to a low risk of contact offending) should also be considered. Where this can be shown from expert evidence (we routinely instruct an a  psycho-sexual expert in these cases) and is coupled with evidence that an offender has made efforts to address their behaviour, it should be recognised as an additional mitigating factor.

If rehabilitation is the primary objective, criminalising those men who do view this type of material but pose no appreciable risk of contact offending is not the answer.     

Online Justice Proposals for Fare Evasion Prosecutions Criticised

New Government proposals aimed at allowing individuals accused of fare evasion to plead guilty online have been discussed in Parliament. Under the guise of promoting efficiency it is proposed that anyone charged with fare evasion will be able to plead guilty, have a case disposed of by way of a fine and make payment over the internet.

At BSQ our private client department specialises in defending individuals in these type of cases. We are concerned that these proposals risk causing injustice as they may encourage defendants to plead guilty out of convenience.

BSQ partner Roger Sahota commented that:

“Anyone charged with fare evasion should consider seeking legal advice for two reasons.

First, in the vast majority of cases we have been instructed in, particularly with first time offenders, we have managed to secure out of court settlements by negotiating with the rail companies.

More importantly, a fare evasion conviction should not be regarded a trivial matter. A conviction can lead to a criminal record. This may cause problems for individuals working in or wishing to enter the professions or seeking accreditation from a regulated body.

In our experience too many defendants fail to grasp the possible implications of a conviction for fare evasion and either ignore correspondence until it is too late or fail to take legal advice to see if they can defend or divert a prosecution."

See our fare evasion practice page for more details.