We’ve all been on bad dates at one point or another and many of us have even walked out on the date without saying goodbye. Is that illegal? Not normally, but if you set up dates specifically to get someone to buy you expensive meals and then leave before the check comes every time, Oceanside defense attorneys warn you could be committing fraud, theft or even extortion.
The Dine and Dash Dater
Paul Guadalupe Gonzales has been on a lot of dates over the last two years. But prosecutors allege that he hasn’t been looking for love, but instead, a free meal (and not cheap eats either). Gonzales has been accused of wooing women on dating sites, inviting them to expensive restaurants, flattering them at dinner and then going home before the check arrived, leaving the women to pay the check. Prosecutors say he “stole” $950 from women through this scheme.
While it’s not a crime to bail out on a date when you realize things aren’t working out, if Gonzales intentionally set up dates with these women solely to get them to pick up the check it is illegal. The fact that Gonzales used a fake name on many of the dates, gives some additional validity to the charges.
Normally his actions might be considered fraud or theft, but the District Attorney chose to file the charges as extortion, which normally requires the use of threat or force, so they may be hoping Gonzales and his attorney will plead down the charges to fraud.
Defending His Actions
While most criminal charges end up in plea bargains, it is entirely possible his Oceanside criminal lawyer will insist on taking the matter to trial if the prosecutors refuse to drop the charges. This case will be very difficult for the prosecution to prove given how many people go on dates solely to get something out of someone else. If his attorney argues that what Gonzales did was wrong, but was not a crime, he will have a good chance of swaying the jury -especially given that some of women on the jury may have done the exact same thing in the past and some of the men on the jury who have had the same thing done to them may feel like Gonzales wouldn’t be on trial if he was female.
Additionally, his Oceanside criminal attorney may be able to argue that Gonzales really was trying to date the women, but just didn’t know how to break off the dates when he realized early on that things weren’t working out. If he has a record of “ghosting” people in previous relationships that did not involve expensive meals, this could help bolster his defense. Of course, he will also need to defend his use of a fake name as well.
On the other hand, given that Gonzales faces seven counts of extortion, two counts of attempted extortion, one count of grand theft, defrauding an inn keeper and petty theft, he and his lawyer may be willing to take a very liberal plea bargain. After all, facing a handful of years of probation or a short jail sentence for a few misdemeanor crimes is certainly preferable to the thirteen year prison sentence he could face if convicted of all counts.
With so many possible defenses, but such high stakes, it will be interesting to see which way Gonzales and his attorney choose to approach his defense.
If you have been accused of fraud, theft or extortion, Oceanside defense lawyer Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Kevin Simmons