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cookie1
Last week I defended myself against a FPN for mobile phone use whilst driving. I was successful and very relieved as I hadn't been doing it. I found some great information on this forum and am really greatful for that.

I was told after being found not guilty that I could claim costs related to defending myself. At the time I had no idea what to do about this or even what to claim for. I had put so much effort into prooving my innocence that I hadn't given any thought to afterwards. I was told I was able to go away and submit the claim afterwards. I have tried phoning and the information I can get out of the magistrates court has been next to useless. I now have an address to send my claim to. Can anyone tell me what kind of things I should be claiming for? And how best to set out my claim?

Thank you for any help you can give me.

Michelle
The Rookie
You can claim travel (pubic transport fare or 45p/mile by car) and subsistance (lunch for example), not just to court but any other related to your defence from when you recieved the summons, you can also claim for photocopying/printing etc.

If you have any other costs tell us and we'll say if you can claim.

Simon
cookie1
Thank you for that. The main thing I guess I wondered about was all the things I posted since I got the FPN (plea form, replies to letters from court/police/ CPS). I sent most of them special delivery so that I could make sure they got there in good time and have records of them being delivered.

How does it work with printing/copying things? Most of these were done at home so I don't have receipts for using copiers and the paper/ink came from supplies I already had.

I don't really know what else I should be thinking of claiming for because I was just looking forward to the whole think being over and hadn't realised I'd be able to claim.
Logician
If you claimed at say 5p per sheet, I guess it would be accepted. The big thing that you cannot claim for is your time, not even in the form of loss of earnings
The Rookie
You can claim postage from when you got the summons, not before, generally costs can only be claimed from when you recieve the summons.

Calculate the cost of printing and copying, its what it costs you that counts, 9p/sheet has been claimed whetre it can be justified.

Simon
Transit man
As an aside Michelle, I (and I am sure others) would be interested in hearing about your situation, how/why you were stopped, what was your defence etc. I believe that many people are being incorrectly charged with this offence so I think your story could be very enlightening.

Maybe start a new thread on the subject.
rover_mad
Yes, tell us more please Michelle. The subject of use of mobile radio/phone equipment whilst driving is very dear to my heart, as I am studying this right now.
cookie1
Thank you. I will have to sit down and work out how much paper I have used.

I will find some time somewhere to sit down and write about the whole thing.
cookie1
Sorry it's taken me so long to do this. I would say I will make it a short explanation of the whole thing from start to finish but, as anyone who has been through it knows, there is no such thing! This is very long as it comprises the events around me getting the ticket, the time spent waiting for and building up to my case and the hearing itself.

Just in case anyone who is reading this is hoping to use any of it to get off a ticket they have been given for something they WERE doing please toddle off now. I have been really annoyed during the course of the last 7 months about the number of people who come whining onto message boards about how they were 'only making a quick call' or how they 'wouldn't normally do it but....'. I don't care. You were doing it, suck it up, grow a pair and pay the fine. I wasn't guilty and the reason I went through the stress of fighting this was for that very reason. I don't care how that sounds. If you do find anything here that can help you defend yourself when you were guilty in the hope that you can weasel your way out of it may I say I truly hope karma comes back and bites you on the bum. If however you have found yourself in the position I was in and have been given a ticket for something you weren't doing then I hope something here can help you.

Back in February I was given an FPN after being stopped by two officers who told me their colleague had seen me holding my phone to my ear while I was driving. During our conversation I repeatedly told them that I wasn't, would not and considered it a stupid thing to do so. I also showed one of the officers my phone, which was in my handbag in my car, the registries showing no calls made or received anywhere near the relevant time. After radioing their colleague who told them he was certain he had seen me they issued the FPN. I told the officers that I wouldn't be paying it and would be requesting court. From being stopped to being told I could carry on was about 30 minutes.
I am an honest person and if I have done something I admit it. I hadn't and there was no way I was paying the fine without fighting it. It would have basically been saying that I had done something I hadn't. It would have been a whole lot easier but I couldn't do that just for an easy life.
I presented my licence at the police station the next day and repeated the whole thing again and enclosed a letter doing the same when I sent off the slip requesting court. This was suggested by someone I know who is in the police, just in case the people I was dealing with were the sort to use their discretion. No luck.
Over the couple of days following the day of getting the FPN I made notes about what had happened and used these to write a very detailed 3 page statement about my version of events.
I contacted my mobile provider who said they couldn't keep incoming call records as they didn't have the technology to do so. Utter nonsense I'm sure but if it's true then it would be a great phone company to be with if you wanted a mobile for illegal purposes!
I went to citizens advice bureau 4 days after it happened to get some advise about what to do. I got an appointment with the legal advisor there. They called my phone provider to try and get somewhere with call records, no joy and spoke to a solicitor to ask for some general advice. Nothing in particular came out of that but it did leave me feeling certain that I was doing the right thing and confident in my decision.
When I sent off the slip requesting court I received a reply saying that it would be considered along with any statement of mitigation I had submitted. I replied asking how I went about doing this as nothing so far had given any indication about the option to do this. They replied and told me that I could submit it to them during the next 11 days, I got this with 5 days to get it to them. I sent it and received no confirmation of receipt (Fortunately I knew they had received it in time because everything I posted was sent recorded).
Fast forward 2 ½ months and I received a summons, the statements of the officer who filled in my ticket and the officer who said he had seen me and a copy of the ticket which was so bad that nothing could be seen on it. The officers statements were extremely vague. The case and their statements gave the wrong reg number and the wrong road name. It gave the court date as one month later, asked me to fill in how I intended to plead (guilty by post, guilty at court or not guilty), said if not guilty that I was NOT to attend on the given date, asked for dates I would not be able to attend, space for mitigating circumstances and also enclosed a form for me to send off if I wanted the officers to attend to give verbal evidence. I wrote to the ticket office asking them to confirm where my statement was and gave them 10 days to respond (I may have been a bit stroppy by this point and figured if they could mess me around then I could at least make demands of them!). A couple of days later they replied saying it had been forwarded to the criminal justice unit.
I filled in the form saying I wanted the officers to attend court, the plea form saying I would be pleading not guilty, the mitigating circumstances section and said that I had already sent a statement to central ticket office but that I was enclosing a copy for them to see in case it hadn't made it to them. I also enclosed a letter asking to be informed within 10 days of their receiving it how long I should expect to wait to hear what happened next.
A month later (and 20 days after the initial hearing) I hadn't heard anything so I wrote to the court again pointing out I had asked questions which hadn't been replied to and would like a reply within 14 days. 5 days later they responded with a letter and a copy of the adjournment notice giving me a trial date of 1 week later.
4 days before the hearing date I received 3 letters from the crown prosecution service with:
1: Statements of the two officers I had already had and a new statement of the second officer who was in the car spotting. This new one had been written 6 days after the initial hearing date, 5 ½ months after the day I got the ticket.
2: A letter telling me that I could, if I wanted to, submit a 'defence statement' setting out my evidence and points of law within 14 days. Also saying it was optional for a magistrates hearing.
3: A form asking if I wanted the officers to attend to give verbal evidence to be returned within 7 days.

This sent me into a bit of a panic (as well as being livid about getting these things so close to the hearing date) as I had no idea what to do with this information at this point. When I had been to citizens advice in the initial stages I had kept the piece of paper that had a phone number to call if I needed to cancel. It is near impossible to get appointments at CAB without turning up half an hour before they open but I decided it was worth a shot and they don't print their direct numbers on posters etc. I called the number and asked if they could see me or give me some information about finding a solicitor to get some advice. (Not something I could afford but family had said they would pay for it). I was told to come down and they would see what they could do and would at least give me details of solicitors.
By some miracle the legal advisor was able to see me and called the CPS on my behalf. She spoke to the duty solicitor who said none of what I had been sent was vital and if I wanted to bring a defence statement that I could do so on the day of the hearing. I did reply to all of their letters saying that I was aware they would be receiving them with very little notice but that as I had only received them with 4 days to go it was unavoidable and that I would be bringing the defence statement to court. The legal advisor at CAB said that they had blatantly been banking on me backing out and just paying the fine/taking the points but at this point they had probably realised that wasn't going to happen so had to pull out all the stops.
I am now glad that I got these things at such short notice because it really irritated me and made me determined to do even more to prove my innocence.

At this point a fantastic post on this forum came in very handy.
http://forums.pepipoo.com/index.php?showtopic=35692

It really clearly showed how I should set out my defence statement and over the next 2 days I spent about 26 hours doing that, sorting things out to take and putting everything in order. I also wrote lists of questions to ask the officers. It really was an extremely useful post and I couldn't thank the poster enough.
I had character statements from friends and former employers, photos of my phone showing the call register from the time I was accused of using it, printouts from facebook last year showing a page where I had shared a video with comments giving my opinion on using a phone whilst driving, maps showing the correct road name, printouts from Parkers website showing that the reg number given in the case was a different make from my car and a few other bits.
What I would have liked is to be able to go into court, simply say I hadn't (and wouldn't) been using my phone while driving and for that to be enough. I knew it wasn't going to be that simple so every little thing that might be useful had to be considered.
On the day of the hearing I was (naively) shocked to turn up to court and find that every other defendant who seemed to come and go was wearing jeans/tracksuits. I think I had thought that was just exaggerated for tv! Irrelevant but it really surprised me.
After going in I spoke with the prosecution lawyer and while she was (it seemed to me) trying to see if the things I had prepared were going to be of any use to their case it was actually really useful to me because I didn't feel intimidated by her at all.
When I was planning my questions out I had hoped for the officers to give evidence in a particular order. Mainly because it made it easier for me to follow up on my questions. I was glad when they did come out in that order.
The first officer was the one who had written to statement 5 ½ months after the event. He was very confident and very sure of himself. It threw me a bit but it also gave me one of the first occasions where I was able to get inconsistencies between the officers evidence.
The second officer came out and he seemed really nervous, strange considering he was not a young officer who had probably been in courts many times before. He completely contradicted the first officer in saying they weren't using wipers on the vehicle they were in. He also said, when being questioned by the prosecution that during the de-brief they hadn't been told that any of that days tickets were likely to go to court. As I said earlier I had made that very clear to the officers who stopped me so that gave me an extra question for the last officer.
Another good thing for me was that both the officers in the car accepted that what they thought they saw could also have been me leaning on my hand. They wouldn't say it was but they did accept that could have given the impression to them that I was holding a phone to my ear.
After a break for lunch (which came at a good time for me because the way the questioning had gone left me feeling even more sure of myself and had given me a few advantages) the third officer came. He was the one who had stopped me. During questioning him I asked if he had made the others aware during the de-brief that my ticket was likely to result in court and he said yes. He was certain about this. I also said that I had been polite and helpful (holding paperwork still for him because the breeze/cold was making it difficult to fill in) the whole time I was stopped which he said was the case.
When it was my turn to give evidence and be questioned by the prosecution I basically recounted events from the day. The prosecution kept asking stupid questions like was I sure I wasn't checking contacts, video, photos, texts. In the end I got fed up with this as her witnesses had already said that what they saw appeared to be me holding the phone to my ear and I told her that I don't tend to look at those things with my ear. Plain and simply I had not been using my phone at all.
During summing up I didn't want to rely too heavily on the inconsistencies between the officers but I knew it was important so I did briefly mention those, I told the magistrates that it had been a long and stressful 6 months, that I wouldn't have done it any differently if I had known how tough it was going to be on myself and my family and despite the chance that it could result in a far larger fine which we couldn't afford, I had done it because I wasn't guilty and to have taken any other course would have been dishonest, I wasn't prepared to set that example to my children – especially my daughter who was in the car with me at the time. Once that was done and I knew there was no more I could do I sat down and cried a bit!
While the magistrates were out there was a very surreal time where I was chatting and joking a bit with the prosecution lawyer, the usher and the officer who had stopped me. It was very bizarre. I was also very flattered when the lawyer and the usher said that my defence case was better than a lot of the defence solicitors they have in. I think this was purely down to the fact that it meant so much to me.
When they came back out to give their verdict and found me not guilty I was relieved and just said thank you. That takes me up to the point of my first post where I was told I could claim costs. I had no idea how much I had spent on the whole thing and just wanted to go home. I was told I could do it afterwards. Thanks to the people who came back to me with advice. I submitted a claim for a little over £30. Not much to many people but to us it does make a difference I claimed only for postage, paper and printing and envelopes. I didn't claim lunch for the day as I would have eaten that day regardless of where I was! It was approved and I got the cheque a week later.

I guess my advise to anyone who is in the same position would be;

When you are stopped make every effort to convey that you were not and would not use your phone whilst driving.
Write down everything you can about what happened as soon as you can afterwards. Sign and date all copies of everything you write down.
Keep copies of EVERYTHING, including copies of forms before you send them off.
Send everything either next day or signed for. This will add to the cost but you can claim this back afterwards if you are found not guilty.
Don't back down. Almost everything they send you will make it seem so much easier to just pay the fine/take the points. If you weren't doing it, don't give up.
Don't bother with solicitors. A well presented case where you defend yourself makes just as much/more of an impact than a lot of solicitors.
Request that the officers attend court to give verbal evidence on the day. Make sure that you read through their statements very carefully and have questions ready for them. Take into account what they say when they are questioned by the prosecution and see if there is anything that comes up from this that you can follow up on. Run through these with someone beforehand so you can think about what their answers might be and where you might need to ask more questions.
Ask friends and employers if they would be willing to write character statements for you. In my case the magistrates said it was not necessary for them to refer to these as I had shown my character during the hearing but if they had wanted to read them then I think they might go a long way. If you are known, like me, as someone who has VERY strong views on something like using mobiles whilst driving then your friends/employers will know this.
Dress smartly and be polite for the hearing.
Take copies of evidence you plan to use. One for the court and one for you to refer to.
Make notes during the hearing about anything relevant. I had paper/pencils provided by the court but had also taken some with me.
Think about why you are doing it. If like me you are doing it because you refuse to admit to something you haven't done make that very clear at the end of the hearing. You will have an opportunity to speak then.

Apologies again for the long post. Congratulations if you have got this far and Good luck if you are reading it in the hope of finding some advise on dealing with an FPN for something you haven't done.
The Rookie
Congratulations on sticking to your principles, and well done on the right result, I think the Police are far to quick to jump on anyone who isn't holding the wheel with both hands, scratching your ear is on the mobile threse days - which is bizarre as the number of drivers I see clearly using a mobile daily, surely they can just hit the blatant ones!

Simon
Mayhem007
CONGRATULATIONS!!!

You have proved with hard work and determination and incredible resolve one stands a better chance of winning.

However...the LAW is very fickle...some people may have committed an alleged offence, but it does not mean that they are automatically guilty of the offence, if the evidence against them is unlawful.

Nevertheless, I daresay with your experience and success you will be offering many people on here sound advice.

WELL DONE.
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