False damage claims a motel far from our home?
October 13, 2012 2:48 PM   Subscribe

We were falsely accused of a damage claim at a motel far from our home. What are our options?

Briefly stated: First off, the manager claimed that our dog had stayed in our room, which he did not, and we were asked to check out. Upon leaving, we were told our cleaning deposit would not be refunded because of our dog. My husband slammed the door when leaving the office. Now we get a call from the police asking for our version of events. The motel manager claims that my husband deliberately opened the deadbolt before slamming the door, which he did not. She claims there is $1,000 worth of damages, which makes it a felony in the state.Extradition may be imposed. She is lying about the dog, and lying about the deadbolt. What are our options? I am thinking we need to write a letter stating our complete version of the events, get it notarized, and send it registered mail to the police. Any suggestions will be appreciated. The motel is in a city more than 500 miles from our home. Thanks, hive mind.
posted by ragtimepiano to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You need to talk to a lawyer before you talk to anyone else or put anything in writing. This is a legal issue and you need legal advice.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:49 PM on October 13, 2012 [12 favorites]

You need a criminal defense lawyer. Do not talk to the police without a lawyer. Definitely do not send a notarized account to the police without a lawyer.

The MetaFilter wiki has tips on how to get a lawyer.
posted by grouse at 2:55 PM on October 13, 2012 [7 favorites]

A consultation with a lawyer is free, and a letter on the lawyer's stationary telling them to stop fucking around or you're going to court isn't probably less expensive than $1000.
posted by griphus at 2:55 PM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

yeah... options are:

1- Pay


2 - Lawyer
posted by edgeways at 2:56 PM on October 13, 2012

And yeah, never, ever, ever talk to the police without a lawyer. That's a general rule.
posted by griphus at 2:56 PM on October 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

01. Lawyer up.

02. How do you know that the call actually came from the police and not just some friend of the motel owner pretending to be the police? The owner has already presumably proven to be someone willing to make up a load of crap.
posted by elizardbits at 3:39 PM on October 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

IAAL, IANYL. I practice criminal defense. Do not give any statements to police (real or pretend). There are plenty of reasons for that advice. Don't deviate from it without advice from a competent and experienced local criminal defense attorney.

I would also consider charging back or disputing the fee with your credit card company. This sounds like they are lying (twice) to shake you down. Consider contacting a local consumer attorney and employing your Google-fu on these fools to see if there are other complaints. Talking to a criminal defense attorney may also help you determine whether there is legit police involvement. If there isn't, he or she may counsel you on how to file your own complaint with the cops. Extortion and theft by fraud or embezzlement are probably crimes, even in said town that is 500 miles away.

This smells like a scam to me, but approach with caution.
posted by Hylas at 4:12 PM on October 13, 2012 [6 favorites]

Addendum:Before I posted this question, my husband did return the supposed officer's call and spoke briefly with him. He did not read him any rights whatsoever. Does this mean that he is not taking this case seriously? Considering that this may be a potential felony charge, is he required to read Miranda rights?
posted by ragtimepiano at 6:44 PM on October 13, 2012

Less metafilter, more lawyer.
posted by Snazzy67 at 6:53 PM on October 13, 2012 [9 favorites]

He's only required to Mirandize you when you're arrested. That doesn't mean you don't need a lawyer before then.
posted by ubiquity at 7:08 PM on October 13, 2012

Lawyer lawyer lawyer. None of us has any idea what's going on or what the right thing to do is. Get a lawyer and let them contact the motel owner/motel owner's lawyer/police.
posted by Lexica at 9:06 PM on October 13, 2012


but if your husband returned the call he has the phone number- he should be able to easily check if it is a real police phone number or not. you might want to do that.
posted by saraindc at 12:15 AM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Miranda is really only required when the subject is in custody and the police try to talk to them. It does not apply in consensual encounters like when you call them back. Note: I can't and won't address any rights you may have under your state's constitution or statutes, unless it's California. If you have a telephone number for the alleged cop, consider a reverse lookup to see if it's really a police station number.

Again, dealing with a criminal allegation, no matter how absurd, especially when police may be involved, is never a DIY thing. You should talk to someone - many of us give free consultations. An experienced local criminal defense lawyer may be able to give you some constructive advice. Feel free to MeMail me. I may be able to hit my network for a referral.

You can also try avvo.com, where you can post questions to lawyers in the relevant jurisdiction (where the alleged crime occurred). The quality of California answers is reasonably good. That jurisdiction's criminal defense lawyers may be similarly good.
posted by Hylas at 9:49 AM on October 14, 2012

Thanks, everyone. We did do a reverse number check on the phone and it's a cell phone number, which may or may not indicate anything as maybe the Portland policemen have cells. Will try avvo.com
posted by ragtimepiano at 12:31 PM on October 16, 2012

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