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.