During domestic disputes, when tempers flare and tensions run high, it is not uncommon for one individual to prevent another from calling 911. He or she may hang up, hide, or even damage or break the phone.
Preventing such a call, however, can be a crime. This offense – “Interference with Emergency Telephone Calls” or “Interference with Emergency Request for Assistance” – is taken very seriously in Texas and can carry significant consequences as a misdemeanor or felony.
Here’s an overview of the offense, the punishment, and potential defenses. Anyone facing this charge should contact a skilled defense attorney who has substantial experience handling these types of cases.
Under Section 42.062 of the Texas Penal Code, a person commits Interference with a 911 or Emergency Telephone Call if he or she:
Very often, we see this charge affiliated with domestic violence or assault situations. However, it can also apply to a wide array of other circumstances. For example, witnesses to a crime, such as robbery, may be prevented from calling 911.
Under the law, “emergency” means a condition or circumstance in which any individual is or is reasonably believed by the individual making a telephone call to be in fear of imminent assault or in which property is or is reasonably believed by the individual making the call to be in imminent danger of damage or destruction.
This is a basically a complex way of saying that an emergency exits when a person believes, or reasonably believes, that he or she is in fear of being assaulted or that their property is or has been destroyed.
In most cases, Interfering with Emergency Telephone Calls is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
However, if an individual has been convicted of this offense in the past, it is a state jail felony, punishable by six months to two years in a state jail facility and up to a $10,000 fine.
For a prosecutor to convict an individual, they must prove certain elements beyond a reasonable doubt, including that there was an “emergency” and the accused acted “intentionally” or “recklessly.” A skilled defense attorney will investigate every element of the case, determine what defenses are applicable, and develop a strategy in an effort to achieve a favorable result.
If you or a loved one is facing a charge of Interfering with a 911 or Emergency Call in Fort Worth, you will need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney to thoroughly evaluate your case and aggressively defend you. Call us today for a complimentary strategy session.