These days online dating can be a very convenient way to find love, romantic partners, or sometimes just a quick hookup. With the internet at our fingertips and an abundance of dating applications available and the Bay Area filled with potential suitors, it’s very common to run into trouble. When an online date has gone bad people tend to call our office when they get a phone call from a police investigator asking them to come into the station for questioning or to give a statement of their version of the events. Sometimes a client may even get a phone call from the person they went on an online date with, with accusations of doing illegal things to them. This is often a call that is being recorded by law enforcement.
The fact patterns tend to be the same. You meet somebody online, send a couple of messages back and forth, and ended up meeting in person. One version of the story may be consensual, the other version, not so much. Sometimes alcohol, drugs, or even a question of how old the person they met online can be an issue.
If you were being investigated for criminal activity stemming from an online date gone bad, do not incriminate yourself and do not give a statement to the police. Very often a shield can be used as a sword and giving a statement to defend yourself may actually be used against you by law enforcement. The job of the investigator is to draft a police report that will ultimately be sent to the DA’s office with recommendations of what charges they think should be brought against you. So, while you think you’re helping yourself out by giving your version of the story, what you’re actually doing is giving the investigator more information to beef up their police report. It is in your best interest to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to see what you can do to protect yourself.
At Lamano Law we offer something called pre-charging representation to clients who find themselves in this position. It’s called pre-charging representation because you have not been formally charged in court and you’re still in the investigation phase of your case. Pre-charging representation means hiring an attorney during the investigation phase so that we can do our own investigation about the possibilities of preventing charges from being filed against you in the first place. This could involve calling the investigator on your behalf and letting them know that you’ve hired a lawyer, are protected, and you’re not going to make any statements. We can also use this opportunity to potentially get more information about what you’re being accused of by the alleged victim. Sometimes the investigator may tell us a little bit of the details along with the charges that they’re going to recommend to the DA, and at other times its radio silence, and we get no response at all.
In some cases, depending on whether or not the police report has been completed and sent to the DA’s office, we may be able to find out which District Attorney is assigned to your case and potentially have a conversation about the charges being filed against you and potentially settling the case before it’s even filed.
Every single case is different. We need to consider whether you have an extensive criminal history or no history at all. We need to consider who the victim is and whether they’re credible: do they have a criminal history or do they have a tendency to lie? What is the deadline or the statute of limitations for the DA to bring charges against you?
Hiring an attorney in the early stages of an investigation could be advantageous in that you’re being proactive and making sure no stone is left unturned to protect your reputation and your liberty. If you find yourself in trouble from an online date gone bad, do not make a statement to the police, call a criminal defense attorney to see what you can do to protect yourself. At Lamano Law our goal is to keep you informed, thanks for listening.