If police suspect you have committed a sex crime, you must be on your defence because police can use tricks to get you to incriminate yourself. One trick the police use, especially for sex crimes, is the pretext phone call or pretext conversation. We will discuss how the police will get you to self-incriminate yourself without knowing they are listening.
What is a Pretext Call?
The best weapon a prosecutor has in a criminal trial is a confession made by an accused. The law about confessions is based on the principle that someone wouldn’t say they committed a criminal offence if they didn’t do it.
When an alleged victim attends the police station to report a sex offence, the police may convince them to participate in a pretext phone call. A pretext phone call is a tool used by police as part of the investigation process. Pretext phone calls are usually only used where the alleged victim knows the alleged perpetrator. The police will get the alleged victim to attend the police station. They will get the alleged victim to phone the accused. The police, without you knowing, will record everything said during the phone call. You will have no idea you are being recorded.
A pretext call in a criminal trial can be compelling evidence. Sometimes, it is the only evidence linking an accused to the alleged offence.
The Purpose of the Pretext Call
A pretext call aims for an alleged victim to get an accused to make an incriminating statement that can be used to prosecute them. An admission by an accused to the victim of a sexual offence during a pretext call is powerful.
What may the alleged victim say to you during a pre-text call?
The alleged victim will not ask, “Why did you rape me”. This is because it will cause an immediate response of “I didn’t rape you”. What the police want is for the alleged victim to get you to say things that will amount to a criminal offence.
The victim may say such things to you as:
- “how come you did it?”.
- “Why did you do it to me?”
- “Why did you keep going when I told you to stop?”
- “Why did you do to me what you did last night?”.
- “why did you touch me there?”.
While this conversation happens, you will not know the police are recording the phone call.
When is the Pretext Call Made?
There is no hard and fast rule when a pretext call is made. It depends on the circumstances of the case. Sometimes, the call may be made immediately; in others, it could be weeks, months or even years after the alleged offence. If the alleged offence occurred some time ago, then the accused may least expect anything untoward to arise from it.
Being Caught Off Guard
The pretext call aims to get you caught by surprise with no reason for you to suspect anything. The call may happen any time of day or night. The alleged victim may call you at night or on the weekend when you relax and let your guard down. When you least expect it, the alleged victim will call you. People often let their guard down when an alleged victim calls them, and they think no one else is listening.
Are Pretext Calls Legal?
In Queensland, pretext calls are legal. The police don’t need any warrant or anything special to conduct one. The issue is whether they are admissible in Court. There may be a pretext call made to the accused, but there may be nothing of relevance to the case in it.
If They Don’t Succeed The First Time, Will They Try A Second Pretext Call?
You bet they will. We have had cases where there are multiple pretext calls. The reason is the police may not get what they want in the first one. They then get the alleged victim to make a second or third call.
Nothing To Lose By Making the Pretext Call
Pretext calls are usually between parties known to each other. However, there is nothing to say the police wouldn’t get an alleged victim to call the accused, who she doesn’t know and say she got their phone number from a friend.
You Never Know Who Is Listening
Today, you cannot be sure who is listening to your phone calls or who is recording them.
What’s The Best Way To Avoid Getting Caught Out With A Pretext Call
A pretext call usually happens when you least expect it. A phone call from the alleged victim could happen a week, a month, or a year after the alleged offence. The best way to avoid being trapped during a pretext phone call is not to take the call. If you think you are the subject of investigation of a sex crime, don’t answer phone calls from unknown numbers, the alleged victim, persons known to the alleged victim or the police.
Example of What Police Tell An Alleged Victim At The Time of A Pretext Call
Before the alleged victim makes the pretext call to the accused, the police start recording. There are certain things the police officer must advise the alleged victim before they make the pretext call, and this is all recorded. Below is an example transcript of what police tell alleged victims before they make the pretext call.
Police Officer: The date is the ……………….., the time is ………. This will be a phone conversation between the alleged victim and the accused. Uh so I can’t tell you what to say when you ring the accused today. Uh remember though you’re here to concentrate on the matters referred to in what we’ve spoken about today.
Um, when you discuss what happened with the accused you need to be as specific as you can when you talk about what happened um, you need to ensure that the accused understands what you’re talking about. What you say is entirely up to you, however you must not threaten or attempt to coerce the accused to discuss these matters.
Now you’re in charge of making the call so you can hang up at any time, uh whilst you’re making the call I cannot be involved in the conversation.Um, when you discuss what happened with the accused you need to be as specific as you can when you talk about what happened um, you need to ensure that the accused understands what you’re talking about. What you say is entirely up to you, however you must not threaten or attempt to coerce the accused to discuss these matters.
Now you’re in charge of making the call so you can hang up at any time, uh whilst you’re making the call I cannot be involved in the conversation.
Alleged victim: Okay.
Police Officer: Just understand, you’re not in any rush to speak so it doesn’t matter how long the phone call goes for okay?
Alleged Victim: Okay.
Police Officer: Ah so to record this conversation we use this digital recorder here plus the ear mic.
Alleged Victim: Mmhmm.
Police Officer: Ah so you need to place the ear mic inside of your ear uh so the conversation is
recorded. And uh the two mics on the ear mic record what you say and what is said to you. Remember to place the ear mic on the same ear you’ll be listening to the phone conversation with, okay?
Alleged Victim: Yep.
Police Officer: Ah before you start the conversation I’ll introduce the date, time and phone
number being called, then I’ll hand you the device and you can dial the phone number and have the conversation okay?
Alleged Victim: Yep.
Police Officer: Do you understand that?
Alleged Victim: Yes.
Police Officer: Alright, now just before we begin has any threat, promise or inducement been held
out on, held out to you to take part in this phone call?
Alleged Victim: Yeah.
Police Officer: Ah do you agree that I haven’t told you what to say during this call?
Alleged Victim: Yes.
Police Officer: Okay, do you understand everything I’ve said?
Alleged Victim: Yes.
Police Officer: Okay. Do you want to come and sit here?
Alleged Victim: Mmhmm.
Police Officer: Alright now I’ll just get you to put the mic in your ear here. So the time is now
……………… on the ………….. the phone number being called is …………………, a phone number belonging to the accused. Alright, do you want to call the phone number now?
Criminal Lawyers Brisbane Group, The Sex Crime Experts
If you believe you are under investigation for a sex crime, the best thing you can do is arm yourself with a criminal defence lawyer. You may think innocent people don’t need a criminal lawyer. The reality is the smart people get a lawyer before the police are involved to ensure their rights and interests are protected. As experienced criminal lawyers, we are attuned to the tricks police play and help clients not fall for them.
If you want the best result, you need the best criminal lawyers. Call the Criminal Lawyers Brisbane Group today for expert sex crime advice. We represent clients throughout South-East Queensland. No matter where your criminal charge is, our sex crime lawyers can help you.