A mum is worried that she might wind up with a criminal record after taking her children out of school for a holiday during term-time and then missing a fine that she claims didn’t arrive in the post.
However, when she came back from the holiday, she only received a penalty notice for her daughter, and claims that no fine for her son ever came.
The mum then didn’t chase the fine up, and later received a ‘single justice procedure notice’ from North Northamptonshire Council stating that she was being charged under the Education Act.
She claims that she’s now facing a criminal conviction for her son’s ‘failure to attend school regularly’ during the last summer term.
Lisa has been asked to plead guilty or not guilty, and believes that getting a conviction would have a significant effect on her career and her financial status.
Lisa claims to have contacted the council on a number of occasions to pay the fine and to find out what is going on, but says she hasn’t heard anything back.
She said: "This is the first time I have taken my children out of school for a holiday and I assumed that because my daughter's [overall] attendance was worse than my son's, [that's why] I was fined for her [and not him].
"I didn't think that his fine could have just gone missing in the post.
"I have already paid a fine for one of my children.
"I strongly disagree that parents should be criminalised for something so trivial, especially when I didn't receive the fine letter [for my son] in the first place.
"I don't understand how I can be a criminal for one child and not the other.
“I don't think it's fair that they can send me a [fine] letter in the post on not recorded delivery but then when I don't receive it [they] issue a criminal charge, as this can have serious consequences.
"It's almost as if they're trying to catch me out."
Lisa took the holiday when she did because it was cheaper, and she claims that they would have still educationally benefited from it.
The fine for her son should have been paid by 10 August, but the penalty charge was ‘lost’.
Lisa claims that she’d have paid the fine within days if she had the opportunity.
She added: "The local authorities never contacted me. They [North Northamptonshire Council] said I hadn't paid my son's fine by August 10th [time given to pay the fine I never received].
"Had they contacted me on this date I would have of course paid it. I didn't realise I would receive a fine."
Lisa continued: "If I enter a guilty plea we don't need to go to court and then this comes with an automatic criminal record, regardless of the sentence. This is what I want to avoid.
"But if I plead not guilty, I could go to court and explain the situation and want to pay the fine but then they could still find me guilty and would still receive the criminal record.
"I don't think it's in the public interest for it to go to court.
"As a landlord, it is definitely not in my tenants' interest to go to court as I could potentially have to issue 12 S21 eviction notices as I may no longer be able to do my job.
"I've got until November 4th until I have to enter a plea and it goes to court. The whole process is barbaric."
A spokesperson from the council said: "We have been made aware of some postal issues recently and as such, offering the benefit of the doubt and in order to seek a satisfactory resolution for all parties, the local authority has contacted the court and requested the matter be withdrawn from hearing to enable payment of the original penalty notice. We apologise for any distress caused.
"We have agreed to reissue the fixed penalty notice via post, with a copy via email, allowing the full 28 days to pay as afforded originally."Featured Image Credit: Kennedy News and Media