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Pretext Phone Calls Related to Sex Crime Cases

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Apr 24, 2018

One big weapon the police have that they use all the time when it comes to sex crime cases is that it is known as a pretext phone call.  This is basically where the alleged victim typically calls the alleged perpetrator on the phone, and the police will tape-record the conversation.

The police feed the alleged victim with the questions, sit there and listen and attempt to get the perpetrator to admit that they committed the crime.

This is a very effective weapon in sex crime-related offenses because if on the pretext of a phone call, the defendant admits that they committed the crime, this is an enormous weapon that they can use against the individual charged with the sex crime to prosecute and convict them down the line.

This is because most people will not admit that they committed a sex crime unless they did commit the sex crime. See California v. Wismer.

Often, people will not admit that they committed a sex crime on the pre-text phone call. However, they will apologize to the victim and act so that somebody innocent wouldn't.

In other words, if someone tells you that why did you commit this sex crime against me?  What were you thinking, and you didn't save it? Your response should be, I don't know what you're talking about; are you crazy? I would never do anything like that.

But instead, what we see a lot in these cases is that during the pretext phone call, the individual apologizes for their behavior and tries to explain why they did whatever they're being accused of doing.

Legal Defenses to Pretext Phone Prosecution

One great defense that I see is that women often act emotional and say a bunch of crazy stuff.  A guy is scared because they feel that the person is losing their mind and acting crazy, so they apologize or acknowledge something they didn't do to alleviate the other party.

So, they will be quiet about it and stop going crazy, and then obviously, they keep away from that particular person.  This can be an effective defense if the surrounding circumstances relating to the alleged sex crime are such that the person can defend themselves.

And, also obviously, what's going to end up happening is that the jury is going to listen to the pretext phone call. They are going to take that into account with all the other evidence, and they'll be the ultimate deciders as to whether or not that pretext phone call means the person's guilty or not.

So, when it comes to a defense strategy for a pretext phone call, first, the pretext phone call has to be listened to, broken down. Then the defense attorney and defendant need to talk about what is actually in there, how it sounds and can be explained, what is indicated there.

Sometimes the person says some things that support a defense. If combined with what is said in the pretext phone call, the person can also mount other evidence that corroborates what they indicate in the pretext phone call. They'll be in a good position to mount a defense and challenge the prosecutor's case.

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So, really what I do when I have a case where someone's charged with a sex crime and the main piece of evidence is a pretext phone call or a pretext phone call is evidence in any way in the case, what I like to do is get the person in the office, we talk about what's said there, we both listen to it, and then we make some decisions on how strong or weak the evidence is, and how we're going to deal with it.

Are we going to resolve a case because the evidence related to the pretext phone call is substantial, or is the evidence weak? We need to challenge it and put our side of the story across, explain why certain things are said in the pretext phone call, and do everything we can to protect your freedom, rights, reputation, and everything necessary to you in your life. 

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

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