What is a Pretext Call?
A pretext call is a recorded call between two people done under the supervision of law enforcement. These calls usually take place between the victim of a crime and the suspect of the committed crime and are most commonly done for sexual assault cases. The call can also be made by a friend, stranger, child, acquaintance, or undercover police officer. Pretext calls can be made days, weeks, or months after the suspected crime was committed. Generally, these calls happen before the suspected person knows that he or she is being investigated.
Since a lot of sexual assault cases are reported days, months, or years later when there is no DNA evidence, the case becomes a “he said, she said” situation. In order to prosecute the suspect, police want the story corroborated. And who better to corroborate it than the suspect?
Pretext calls are used as investigative tools by law enforcement and anything said on the recording can be used against the suspect in a criminal case and during a trial. Law enforcement also used these recordings during interviews in hopes it will lead to a confession.
Pretext calls are usually roughly scripted with specific phrases for the victim to say in order to get a specific response from the suspect. For example, a pretext caller might say, “Why did you have sex with me while I was drunk? I tried pushing you away from me but you did it anyway.”
Contact can also be made by text message or email, as opposed to a voice call.
In California, under Penal Code 633, law enforcement is authorized to set up a pretext call and tape them as long as they are acting within the range of their official police duties.
How to Protect Yourself from Pretext Calls
Never admit to anything over the phone or in written context. If you suspect that a pretext call could be coming your way, hire a criminal defense attorney to help you navigate your way through the system.
Pretext calls are often made to trick the suspect into an admission. If you receive a pretext call, the best thing to do is to hang up. Don’t say anything because it can be twisted to make you look guilty. Just hang up and call your attorney.