I was recently confronted with a situation with which the outcome surprised me. I work part time at a night club that is owned by a hotel. From time to time, myself and the other doormen are required to attend to security matters within the hotel.
On this evening (early morning actually) we were called in after a cab driver had been "stiffed" his fare by a guest. I escorted the driver to the guests room and knocked on the door several times, with no response. Several more knocks, and the cabbie was getting pretty upset. I took the cabbie back down to the front desk, where he asked that I call the police.
Police arrive shortly after and are informed of the situation. The officer explained to the cabbie that this matter was "out of his hands" as it was a civil matter. The officer also stated he could not attend the room, as he would be "acting like a loan shark". The officer appologized and returned to his car.
I just want to know how does that work? Dine and Dash, Skipping Cab fare, both implied oral contracts, besides a day in court how can you enforce them?
I realize this is in reference to Canada, but this brings up a very interesting point that many of our non-LE readers might not be aware of.
That is, that many agencies-including ALL municipal agencies in NC-DO NOT ENFORCE CIVIL LAW, unless directed by the court to do so, and that is only in a miniscule number of cases.
Now this statement on its face might not shock many people, UNLESS they know what falls under “civil” court jurisdiction. For instance (and my examples will be NC-but it will be interesting to see how they compare with other states):
Child Custody-SOOOOO many people call us because an ex-husband, ex-wife, ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend, grandparent, etc., will not return a child involved in a custody arrangement back at a certain time, or refuses outright. Unless the child is in immediate danger (and that danger will be determined by US-estranged couples ALWAYS say that the child is in danger at the “other” house ) we do not become involved-COURT CUSTODY ORDER OR NOT. Many people are shocked (and usually angry) because they think we are going to go to the other party and “muscle” our way in and “take” the child or children. NEGATORY. A child custody order is a civil order and again, we DO NOT and CAN NOT enforce civil law. They are advised to see a judge or seek advice from their attorney. Generally (and I’ve worked for three agencies) unless there is a “pick up order” (Order To Assume Custody) we do not get in the middle of this.
Tenant Law-Geeeeesh! I don’t care how far behind they are in their rent (Mr. Slumlord) or how many times you’ve “told them” to move, we don’t care. The only thing NC LE recognizes is legal eviction. Period. End of story. I don’t care what your BS lease said or how many times they signed it, pay your money and have them evicted (which can take up to 30 days) but don’t bother us until-there’s nothing we can do.
Any “Business” Disagreements-This was hard to define, because we just call them “Civil Matters.” Things such as contract violations, contracted work not done to your satisfaction (unless it rises to an obvious “scam” which many do not, but the complainant tries to make it sound as it is), etc.
There are MANY other times when we just throw our hands up and stop the complainant and say “I’m sorry but that’s a civil matter and not a criminal matter-you’ll have to see an attorney” but I’ve got brain lock this morning and can’t think right now. Many are hard to categorize also.
Also of interest, ONLY the Sheriff (or his deputies) can serve most civil processes, including evictions, domestic violence orders, etc. We can act if someone violates them, but the initial paper, in my hand is worthless, until served by a deputy. Only in a FEW, narrowly defined cases, can we act on civil law-but often it’s when civil law COINCIDES or TIES IN with criminal law. For instance:
The seizure of a vehicle after a DWI arrest. The vehicle seizure is a civil matter while the DWI is obviously a criminal violation.
When we arrest for DWI, a magistrate also serves them with an immediate CIVIL revocation of their driver’s license (30 days.) This is in addition to any criminal punishment or an other revocations of their driver’s license.
A tenant enters a house after being lawfully evicted. The eviction notice and order was civil, but they are now criminally trespassing.
A husband served with an “Ex Parte” Domestic Violence Protective Order comes back to his house before the court date to talk to his wife. The DVO is a civil paper, but he is now in criminal AND civil violation (although I have NEVER seen it charged both ways-it usually goes criminal.)
In the case of the cabbie in the original post, it could go EITHER WAY, as far as NC law goes. Most NC LE would respond, and probably would attempt to mediate and many probably would arrest, BUT it would not surprise me to go to another judicial district, and find that officers do it totally different. Bronze? What about it in your neck of the woods?
In England & Wales doing a runner from a taxi, restaurant, petrol station etc is the crime of making off without payment, commonly called within legal circles 'bilking'.
So assuming that sambrown's punter simply legged it from the cab into his hotel room, we definately have a case. We would also have a power of entry without warrant to go and arrest him in his hotel room.
Things become more complicated when the punter stays on scene and refuses to pay. Depending on the circumstances this may be a civil matter, which we do not normally get involved in or an offence of obtaining a service by deception. In these circumstances we need to ask the right questions to establish if a crime has been committed. In reality the customers often pay up when the police arrive, and they realise they cannot get away with their plan to have a free dinner.
In California, that would have been a crime (I think it falls under 537 PC) and we would have had the cabbie place the guy under citizens arrest. We can't do it for a misdemeanor not committed in our presence (w/ a few exceptions).
Felonies and misdemeanours bit the dust in England & Wales with the Criminal Justice Act 1967.
Our new recruits have to battle with what replaced the above 'Arrestable Offences'. Serious offences like murder, robbery, burglary and theft are 'Arrestable Offences' but a large list of more minor crimes are also added including only this October making off without payment. If an offence is an 'Arrestable Offence' then constables have extensive powers to arrest without warrant on suspicion that the crime has been committed. 'Arrestable Offences' also attract extensive powers of search without warrant post arrest.
The confusion is that there are many other offences which are not 'Arrestable Offences' but have a power of arrest attached by the statute.
We can also arrest at Common Law to prevent breaches of the peace. Indeed we can arrest for any offence that is not an 'Arrestable Offence' if certain conditions apply.
In England & Wales it is unusual for the police to get an arrest warrant as we have such extensive powers of arrest without warrant. Most warrants of arrest are generated by the courts when defendants fail to surrender to custody.
Um, let me add a little to Blue Leader's post. In California, it IS a crime, the same as defrauding an innkeeper, etc. However, if the guy is in his hotel room, and won't come out, we cannot force our way in to secure a citizen's arrest.
If the guy was dumb enough to answer the door, and step out into the hall, then we have the cabbie do the citizen's arrest bit. More than likely, Mr. run and not pay, would STILL not be physically taken to jail, but just issued a citation. Barring other things such as outstanding warrants etc.
In the case that Mr. run and not pay will NOT answer the door, if the officer is actually doing his job (if not, he probably COULD get away with calling it a "civil matter,") he will get all the info from the cabbie. Get a good physical description, find out who has rented the room, and if the MATCH the physical from the cabbie matches the physical on the guy who rented the room, then the case is submitted to the district attorney. Who will then more than likely call it a "civil matter," and will not issue a complaint. OTOH, he may issue a complaint and go for an arrest warrant on the guy.
Fact is, that it's far more of a PITA than it is worth if you are working an area where felonies take up 99% of your time, and of the court dockets.
In Maryland this would fall under theft of service which is a specified misdemeanor. Specified misdemeanors are the few very specific instances where we may and I emphasize may arrest for a misdemeanor not commited in our presense. If they were stupid enough to answer the door and had proper ID they would most likely be issued a criminal citation for theft. If they didn't answer the best the cabbie could hope for is that the hotel would give him the person's name and then he could seek a charging document from a court commisioner, most likely a criminal summons as opposed to a warrant.
Prior to 1st October 2002, when they made making off without payment an 'Arrestable Offence' we would have been snookered as well. We would have had no power of entry and the power of arrest only applied if we caught them committing the offence.
The only way forward would be obtain the offenders details from the hotel register, and ideally cross reference them with the keeper details of his car (assuming he had one).
You would then have to get somebody to try and see him later at the hotel or at his home address, and report him for summons. The fact that the police had spoken to the duty manager could of course get the necessary result when the punter sobers up in the morning. In these circumstances I often found the taxi driver lost interest especially if the fare was low.