Is there a realistic chance for me?

by Joe
(Sacramento, cal usa)

I was convicted of a sex crime in 1996 and have been fighting the conviction since.

I entered into a Ukraine dating website not knowing anything about IMBRA or the background checks that are provided for the women's safety. I met and corresponded with a wonderful woman for about 4 months fully intending on explaining my history somehow with an interpreter as confusing at it might be.

Later, while reading about the rules and regs of the dating site I noticed IMBRA and started reading about it. WOW, it was then that I decided to tell my interest about my background and hoping that she would at least see my side of the situation and not just the end result.

I never heard back from her and decided to cancel my membership for good. I guess my question is really, do I have any other options in the on-line dating scene in the Ukraine at least until I can get my life back with a hopeful conviction reversal? Thank You very much!

Bob's Reply:

If you research IMBRA you will discover that it is primarily driven by angry, bitter feminists. It would not stand up to any constitutional challenge if one was ever mounted.

Having said that...

First, I don't know you or your situation. If you really deserve the reputation that comes with this kind of conviction, then that's not really something I would know how to advise (or would even want to).

BUT, for the sake of discussion here, let's assume that the conviction was in error and a miscarriage of justice, and that your appeal will win.

I don't have anything on my criminal record. But I met a girl on, which at least at the time did not collect an IMBRA disclosure from me. I later applied for a fiancee visa for her, and later married her. So, the absence of IMBRA compliance is not a deal-breaker.

TECHNICALLY I could have had a criminal past and still been successful in this.

So I guess my first thought would be to find a site that doesn't comply with IMBRA. It isn't necessarily a deal-breaker.

BUT, when you apply for a fiancee visa there are a number of places where the forms ask about any criminal records. So, since you KNOW that will eventually be discovered, I would think that finding a way to introduce that into the conversation as early as possible would be the best (or only) way to mitigate the damage.

I have a friend here whose son was convicted for selling crystal meth. He did five years in state prison. Whenever he interviews for a job, before they even start asking questions he just tells them, "Look, when you run a background check on me you're going to find _____... I was young, lost, and mixed up. I'm a different person now..." (and so on).

I think that would be your best chance.

And frankly, that's the best advice for ANY "shortcoming" one might have... LEAD WITH IT! "I want to admit to you that my pictures may portray an unrealistically favorable image of me... I want to be honest up front and tell you that I am a little overweight. I am struggling to get my weight under control, and have started a fitness program toward that end..."

OR, pretty much what I had to disclose early on in my communication with my now ex when I detected her expectation of a "good life". I told her, "I want to be honest... I earn above average income, but I am not 'rich' by any normal standard... I cannot afford long, frequent, luxurious vacations, expensive houses or cars, etc..."

For you, find a way to introduce your situation early on. To me it seems like the only solution.

You'll need to figure out how to word all this... "I want to be honest... You may note on my record that I have a criminal conviction for a sex crime 20 years ago. You may have heard the saying 'there are two sides to every story'... Well, in America when there is a conflict between an angry bitter woman and a man, the courts often only see one side... Here's what really happened..."

So, in the end, I don't know if there is a realistic chance for you... A criminal record like that could be hard to overcome. But, it seems to me that the best chance for overcoming it would be full and immediate disclosure.

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