TV LICENCE HELP!

Bit of a long story…
I was responsible for paying our tv license but there was an issue with my direct debit so it wasn’t coming out of my account. I wasn’t aware of this until an enforcement officer came to the door. I was not in and my husband answered. He set up a direct debit there and then and it has been coming out of his account monthly ever since. I also paid the back pay to cover any missed payments on my licence. Since then we have never missed a payment.

Today we received a letter in my husbands name saying that he now is being prosecuted as he has not complied with the tv licence. He has to enter a plea and my have to go to court. It now states that he has committed a criminal offence!!! We have never missed a payment since this happened. 

This was a genuine mistake that was rectified as soon as we were made aware.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? Obviously he will plead not guilty as it was a genuine mistake but we are panicking that he will be found guilty and end up with a massive fine! Or even end up in jail as the letter states this could happen

Comments

  • I wouldn't plead not guilty, he's admitted watching TV without a licence.
  • NSG666
    NSG666 Posts: 981 Forumite
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    edited 18 August 2021 at 7:17PM
    Unfortunately 'we didn't realise the DD was not going through' is no defence in the same way that 'I forgot to insure / tax my car' isn't.

    The only possible defence might be if your bank admits it cocked up your DD and it was all their fault.

    He will probably be found guilty and face a fine and if paid it will probably be the end of it but if it's a regular occurrence then it might be different in which case tell him not to drop the soap.
    Sorry I can't think of anything profound, clever or witty to write here.
  • NSG666 said:
    Unfortunately 'we didn't realise the DD was not going through' is no defence in the same way that 'I forgot to insure / tax my car' isn't.

    The only possible defence might be if your bank admits it cocked up your DD and it was all there fault.

    He will probably be found guilty and face a fine and if paid it will probably be the end of it but if it's a regular occurrence then it might be different in which case tell him not to drop the soap.
    That wouldn't be a defence, but it might be mitigating circumstances.

    Anyway https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1322871/bbc-tv-licence-fee-prosecution-maximum-fine-tv-licence-cost-latest

    Not really much to worry about.
  • Bigphil1474
    Bigphil1474 Posts: 2,403 Forumite
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    OP, would be worth getting legal advice - check if you have legal cover on your home insurance, or try a local legal company that may give a fee consultation. There may be some grey area as to who has committed the offence if the lapsed license was in your name. He paid for a license immediately, so unless he was watching TV at the time the bouncer turned up, he may have a defence. As above, see if you can find out why the DD wasn't paid. 
  • OP, would be worth getting legal advice - check if you have legal cover on your home insurance, or try a local legal company that may give a fee consultation. There may be some grey area as to who has committed the offence if the lapsed license was in your name. He paid for a license immediately, so unless he was watching TV at the time the bouncer turned up, he may have a defence. As above, see if you can find out why the DD wasn't paid. 
    It won't matter whose name the license was previously in.

    (1)A television receiver must not be installed or used unless the installation and use of the receiver is authorised by a licence under this Part.

    (2)A person who installs or uses a television receiver in contravention of subsection (1) is guilty of an offence

    He used it, ergo he committed an offence.

  • Cornucopia
    Cornucopia Posts: 16,154 Forumite
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    edited 19 August 2021 at 11:15AM
    - How long ago was the call from the TVL salesperson that your OH spoke to?  If it was more than 6 months ago, then their case may not be valid.   They do have a habit of bringing cases towards the end of that window, though.

    - It sounds like this is very much a first TV Licence offence, in which case, the BBC has stated that it is not their policy to prosecute as long as the Licence is now in good standing, which it is.   With or without a solicitor, you can contact the TVL Prosecutions team and discuss this with them.   You may need to be persistent as they can be tricky to get hold of.  

    Even if you can't get the Prosecutions Team to properly apply their own policy, you could present these facts as mitigation for the hearing (you can do this by post) and the case will likely be deferred until your payment record can be checked, and probably subsequently withdrawn.

    These, I think, are your best options.   Your OH signed the TVL paperwork (I assume), and it will be very hard to overturn that admission in Court.   If your OH feels that he was deceived/misled/coerced into signing the confession then that is a possible (quite technical) defence but you would need a Solicitor to check the facts carefully and to use the correct approach in Court.

    (This is not legal advice, but a summary of my previous experiences of TVL prosecutions).

  • Jenni_D
    Jenni_D Posts: 5,109 Forumite
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    What exactly was the original issue with the DD on your account? (Remember that it is the claimant that establishes a DD - with the account-owners permission, and it is the claimant that requests payments. Remember also that when paying by DD you're 6 months in advance ... in other words the payment coming out in August '21 effectively covers the licence for February '22. So unless the DD issue was in place for more than 6 months you were never actually without a licence).
    Jenni x
  • MalMonroe
    MalMonroe Posts: 5,783 Forumite
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    First of all, don't panic. They may have just made a mistake here.

    There should be a telephone number on the correspondence you have received. Why not phone them and explain everything, just as you have done here? There's also an email address to use but I'd start off by phoning and speaking to a human being, if at all possible. 

    If you read the information in this link - https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/visit

    you'll see that it says they only prosecute as a last resort. I'm sure an error has been made in your case since you did make a genuine mistake but when challenged, owned up to it immediately, paid up and continued to pay. And as far as you were concerned, everything was sorted out satisfactorily.

    TV licensing must have a record of all of your payments. Did you keep any records yourselves? You can actually check your own account, details in this link - https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/cs/update/your-licence/index.app 

    Yes, unfortunately you did it wrong - but once you were told about it, you admitted to it and put the matter right. Please don't worry, just contact them and get it sorted out and please ask them to send you a letter of confirmation that everything has been sorted out. 

    I can't believe all the negative comments on here. I'm sure it will all be fine, once you've explained.
    Please note - taken from the Forum Rules and amended for my own personal use (with thanks) : It is up to you to investigate, check, double-check and check yet again before you make any decisions or take any action based on any information you glean from any of my posts. Although I do carry out careful research before posting and never intend to mislead or supply out-of-date or incorrect information, please do not rely 100% on what you are reading. Verify everything in order to protect yourself as you are responsible for any action you consequently take.
  • pphillips
    pphillips Posts: 1,631 Forumite
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    edited 28 August 2021 at 9:45PM
    MalMonroe said:
    First of all, don't panic. They may have just made a mistake here.

    There should be a telephone number on the correspondence you have received. Why not phone them and explain everything, just as you have done here? There's also an email address to use but I'd start off by phoning and speaking to a human being, if at all possible. 

    If you read the information in this link - https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/visit

    you'll see that it says they only prosecute as a last resort. I'm sure an error has been made in your case since you did make a genuine mistake but when challenged, owned up to it immediately, paid up and continued to pay. And as far as you were concerned, everything was sorted out satisfactorily.

    TV licensing must have a record of all of your payments. Did you keep any records yourselves? You can actually check your own account, details in this link - https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/cs/update/your-licence/index.app 

    Yes, unfortunately you did it wrong - but once you were told about it, you admitted to it and put the matter right. Please don't worry, just contact them and get it sorted out and please ask them to send you a letter of confirmation that everything has been sorted out. 

    I can't believe all the negative comments on here. I'm sure it will all be fine, once you've explained.
    It's not a negative comment to state that a criminal offence has probably been committed i.e. a TV was watched without a licence (it is likely that there is also an admission to TV Licensing, which will be presented in court).

    No offence can be erased by making amendments for the crime afterwards and with the offence being one of strict liability, there is no requirement for the prosecution to prove any particular state of mind. In other words, a person is guilty simply by the criminal act (what they were intending to do is not relevant to the question of guilt).

    It's also clear from case law that there is no legal loophole because of the fact that someone else in the household is "responsible" for paying the TV licence.

    You may have unrealistic expectations that TV Licensing will be understanding and decide to drop the case, however they cannot be compelled to do so.
  • Cornucopia
    Cornucopia Posts: 16,154 Forumite
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    edited 29 August 2021 at 8:17AM
    pphillips said:
    It's not a negative comment to state that a criminal offence has probably been committed i.e. a TV was watched without a licence (it is likely that there is also an admission to TV Licensing, which will be presented in court).

    No offence can be erased by making amendments for the crime afterwards and with the offence being one of strict liability, there is no requirement for the prosecution to prove any particular state of mind. In other words, a person is guilty simply by the criminal act (what they were intending to do is not relevant to the question of guilt).

    It's also clear from case law that there is no legal loophole because of the fact that someone else in the household is "responsible" for paying the TV licence.

    You may have unrealistic expectations that TV Licensing will be understanding and decide to drop the case, however they cannot be compelled to do so.

    Whilst that may be generally true in principle, we know that...

    - TV Licensing do make mistakes, including making "unsafe" allegations of offences.

    - TV Licensing withdraw many, many cases (a third, ISTR) for a variety of reasons, the most common of which is that a Licence has been brought back into good standing.    This is after they have chosen not to pursue around half of all viable cases for similar reasons.

    - The BBC state that their policy is not usually to prosecute first offenders, however it appears that TV Licensing cannot or will not apply that proactively in all cases, and sometimes they need prompting.

    - I've sat in Court and heard the dialog between TVL and the Bench regarding whether the Licence payments in a particular case are now up to date, and can the case now be withdraw.   It definitely happens.

    There isn't quite enough info in the thread to know for sure which of these things might apply, but we are where we are.  

    It's not so much a case of denying responsibility, merely a desire and expectation of fair treatment within the process as it stands.   (And sometimes the process needs gentle prodding to do that).
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