You can never really be too careful when it comes to meeting potential romantic partners online or through an app. (Just ask the women who were targeted by Simon Leviev, a.k.a. the Tinder Swindler.) If you do your due diligence and use your Google-fu to check out your would-be date, however, the main risk becomes whether he's rude to the server, she has an annoying donkey-bray of a laugh, or they quote-unquote “forgot” their wallet.
Occasionally, though, an online date goes wrong. What happens when you get caught up in a legal snafu simply by searching for that special someone? Let's find out.
The Case of the Accidental Accomplice
The evening began normally for an unnamed woman—we'll call her Suzanne—who had matched with a promising paramour on a dating app. Although they'd IMed, texted, and FaceTimed, the two had not yet met in person until a Monday evening in early December 2016. Suzanne picked up her date, 33-year-old Christopher Castillo, at his parents' house. (Maybe that should have been a red flag?)
Not long afterward, Castillo asked Suzanne if she would stop at a bank. The woman readily agreed, assuming that he wanted to withdraw some cash, perhaps to pay for the evening's drinks and dinner. But she learned otherwise when Castillo ran from the bank building, now wearing sunglasses and a hat. Turns out he had made a withdrawal, all right—by threatening the teller at gunpoint and demanding $1,000.
Stunned, Suzanne acted without thinking when Castillo hopped back in her Maxima, swearing and yelling at her to drive. She complied but soon saw and heard sirens behind her. That's when she stopped the car, and law enforcement stepped in to arrest the not-so-romantic robber.
It Could Happen To You
Luckily, Suzanne wasn't charged with the crime, although she certainly could have been. And there are plenty of other ways to get in hot water on a date. People have been arrested for drugs a date left in their car, for unwittingly “dining and dashing” when the date didn't bother paying a restaurant bill, for trespassing while looking for a spot in which to canoodle. Some unscrupulous folks have even wrongly accused their dates of sexual assault as payback after being politely rejected.
If you ever do something on a date that lands you in jail, no matter what the crime or how it happened, your first order of business is to secure the services of a criminal defense lawyer. Don't take any chances, especially if there were no witnesses to affirm that you weren't a willing participant in the crime. If it's the date's word against yours, you could get a lot more than you bargained for when you signed up for that dating app.
Need expert representation? Call attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or use this contact form to get in touch.