Can A Person Be Prosecuted For Interfering With A 911 Call In Texas?
Calling 911 for help in Texas is a serious matter, and law enforcement takes seriously any issues that prevent emergency dispatchers from getting first responders to a scene. Prank calls to 911 or non-serious calls to dispatchers can lead to various punishments for the callers. Even worse, though, is when a person interferes with a person making an important call for help to emergency services in Texas.
Preventing someone else from calling or completing a call to 911 services is a serious offense under the eyes of the law. In fact, this act can result in criminal charges, fines, and jail time. It is important to know when a person’s actions could lead to criminal charges, and what to do if charged.
What is an Emergency Call Under Texas Law?
Under Sec. 42.062(d) of the Texas Penal Code, an “emergency” means a situation where one person is aware that another is trying to make an emergency call or request for help, and the person trying to call is in fear of an imminent assault. This also includes situations in which the caller’s property is in danger of damage or destruction. In other words, if a person is in fear of danger for themselves or their property, and they are calling for help, this is an emergency situation under the Texas penal code.
How does a person interfere with a call for help? Under Sec. 42.062, a person commits the offense if they knowingly “prevent or interfere” with an attempt to request emergency help. This can include calls to 911 and law enforcement, calls to medical facilities, or calls to other public safety agencies.
Two key elements that a prosecutor must prove in these cases are that:
- The caller had a reasonable fear they were at risk of assault, or that their property was at risk of imminent damage;
- The offender knowingly or recklessly interfered with the person’s ability to call for help.
Some type of intent must be shown that the offender knew or could have expected that their actions would disrupt or end the call.
The most common example, these days, would be taking a cell phone out of someone’s hands and throwing it or doing something else to end the call or damage the phone. There are many other ways one can interfere with an emergency call, however, and each of these cases is extremely fact-specific.
Penalties for Interfering with an Emergency Request for Assistance in Texas
Interfering with an emergency call in Texas is a Class A misdemeanor. Conviction can lead to punishment of up to one year in jail and $4,000 in fines, along with possible probation terms. In addition, a charge and conviction of this type of crime can affect a person’s job and career, or ability to obtain housing. If charged, it is critical that a person obtain expert legal assistance as soon as possible.
Our Pearland, Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Is Here to Help if You Have Been Charged with Interfering With an Emergency Call
Not everybody knows that a thoughtless action while someone else is calling for help can lead to severe ramifications or even jail time. In many cases, the person charged might have a reasonable explanation for what happened, or circumstances might show the charge should be dropped. Our professional legal team at Keith B. French Law, our Pearland criminal lawyers will investigate all facets of your case to determine the best path forward in your legal case. To learn more about your legal options, contact the offices of Keith B. French Law, PLLC online or call 832-243-6153 today.