78-Year-Old Man Arrested for Giving Woman a Ride Home
In your daily life, you may not think too much about criminal law – after all, we tend to know whether or not something we’re doing is illegal. Or do we? A recent incident in Florida suggests that certain criminal offenses – or perhaps police enforcement of those offenses – are less well-known than we originally thought.
Reason reports that Rosco O’Neil, a 78-year-old Miami man, was charged with providing an illegal taxi service for doing what he thought was a good deed: offering a ride home to a woman who claimed she needed help. Now, thanks to what many people would deem Good Samaritan-esque behavior, O’Neil is facing more than $2,000 in fines.
Here’s what happened.
According to sources, O’Neil was at the grocery store to pick up a few essentials. Before entering the store, a woman outside asked him if he “did a service.” He allegedly answered that he didn’t, and the woman said that she needed to get home.
O’Neil then reportedly told her he’d give her a ride if she still needed one when he finished his shopping. She did, so he drove her home.
Unfortunately for O’Neil, this woman was no ordinary damsel in distress – she was working undercover on behalf of Miami-Dade’s County Consumer Services Department, which has apparently been having trouble with people running illegal taxi services. In an effort to address the problem, the CCSD launched the undercover operation. O’Neil was targeted, it seems, because he lingered in his car before entering the store.
Perhaps the undercover agent has never met anyone nearing age 80, and so was unaware that members of this age group tend to take a bit longer to do things than their younger counterparts. Either way, this was the only reason O’Neil was targeted in the sting operation, according to his criminal defense attorney.
The situation turned ugly (for O’Neil, anyway) when he approached the woman’s destination. Though O’Neil had made no mention of money, he was forced to discuss payment, since the woman evidently asked how much he was charging.
O’Neil’s original response to the question, according to sources, was whatever she’d give him; when she demanded a price (and he gave one), the situation became illegal.
And the police were on hand to arrest Mr. O’Neil, 78-year-old criminal and threat to the public’s well-being (apparently). Besides being taken into police custody, O’Neil reportedly had his car impounded, and had to pay $400 to retrieve it.
Sources indicate that no prior complaints on O’Neil as an illegal taxi driver exist.
While this story may illustrate an extreme example of absurdity in the criminal justice system, it also demonstrates an important point: criminal laws are often complex and may seem frivolous or silly to someone not well-versed in criminal law.