Order of protection case study of a client accused of stalking his ex-girlfriend via texts, accessing her email, and other online accounts.
Our client had zero criminal history and was a high-profile individual. The potential damage to his name and reputation was our client’s primary concern. The Petitioner was a former business partner and ex-girlfriend. If granted, our client would have been publicly humiliated as well as unable to perform any duties in the company he helped create and thus unable to exercise his shares in said company.
Our client would have also been ostracized from the community he helped create as a result of creating that company. Furthermore, the risks for anyone under an Order of Protection, and particularly for someone like our client, are:
- The allegations against you will be public, and
- You are subject to immediate arrested, without a warrant, if the person simply alleges you violated the order of protection.
For our client, these were unacceptable risks because the Petitioner was a former business partner and they remained in the same industry, which our client was passionate about.
To protect our client’s public profile and safeguard him from unnecessary risk, our goal was to have the Order of Protection dismissed and, if possible, expunged.
The complicated nature of the technical evidence presented against my client, and our inability to gain access to the specific files and electronic logs, made this a difficult case to prove within the narrow window of time before the Order of Protection hearing. The plan was to comb through our client’s accounts and every possible way his accounts might be associated with the accuser’s accounts in order to explain why they might indicate our client accessed them and/or how someone could make it look like our client attempted to access them.
After interviewing our client at length and combing through his email accounts, social profiles, and internet browser history, passwords, and settings, it became clear that the Petitioner’s accounts that our client was accused of “hacking” were most likely connected to our client’s accounts because of the business they owned together. We believed we could reasonably explain how and why any accounts might show our client accessed or attempted to access the Petitioner’s accounts, but there was a problem.
Without spending thousands of dollars on a forensic expert, the only way to definitively prove anything was to subpoena one or more of the tech companies for the Petitioner’s electronic logs. We chose to issue a subpoena to Google for certain information related to the Petitioner’s accounts. The problem, however, was that because an Ex Parte Order of Protection had been granted against our client before he hired us, we had less than 14 days before the Order of Protection hearing.
Google can legally decline to comply with a subpoena if the timeline for producing the data is less than 30 days, which ours was. Additionally, the Petitioner filed a Motion to Quash the subpoena. Because our client didn’t want the Ex Parte Order of Protection in place any longer than necessary, we decided to proceed with what we had and, if necessary, revisit the subpoena issue on the day of the hearing.
As we discussed these accounts with the lawyer for the Petitioner, it became more and more clear that the accounts she was accusing our client of “hacking” were in fact the business accounts for the business they ran together for eight years. Our client was the creator of the accounts and maintained access until his voluntary exit from the company about one year prior to this order of protection. Knowing this helped us narrow down exactly what electronic logs the Petitioner had that might indicate that our client tried to access them.
Without diving into the technical details, we were able to explain how the Petitioner’s evidence against our client was a series of natural and unavoidable outcomes due to “how” the accounts were initially set up. Furthermore, we were able to show how she could have, and likely did, trigger these outcomes without our client’s permission or prior knowledge. The subpoena we issued to Google would be all the definitive proof we needed.
Through her counsel, she eventually admitted all of this, and it became clear that her motive and goal was solely to maintain control of the business rather than actually being afraid of our client. Text messages between the two of them around the same time the alleged “hacking” occurred also showed this.
Without even having to have a hearing, we saved our client from any negative public attention whatsoever! On the threat of a counter suit, the Petitioner agreed to voluntarily dismiss the Order of Protection with prejudice and our client’s record was later expunged. At the end of the day, our client was completely vindicated and is free to exercise any rights he maintained in the company and participate in the community he helped create.