According to the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), the three-digit phone number “9-1-1” is now designated as a “Universal Emergency Number” for citizens throughout the United States to request emergency assistance. The intention is for it to be a nationwide telephone number to give the public fast and easy access to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), and people who are accused of violating another party’s right to call 9-1-1 in Texas will want to quickly find an interference with 911 attorney.
Even though interference with an emergency request for assistance crimes are typically classified as misdemeanors, repeat offenses can become felonies. You could be dealing with a possible jail or prison sentence, steep fines, and the loss of your right to own or possess a firearm.
Interference with 911 Defense Lawyer in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, and Southlake, TX
If you were recently arrested for allegedly interfering with another person’s ability to call 9-1-1 or otherwise seek emergency assistance, contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (817) 422-5350 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Southlake, Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, and surrounding areas of Tarrant County, TX area.
Our firm regularly handles these kinds of cases and knows what it takes to defend people accused of these types of crimes. Contact us online for a consultation that will allow us to review your case and then commence our own independent investigation into your alleged offense so we can secure the evidence that may be necessary to help fight your charges.
Texas Interference with Emergency Request for Assistance Charges
Texas Penal Code § 42.062 establishes that a person commits interference with an emergency request for assistance when they knowingly prevent or interfere with another party’s ability to place an emergency call or request assistance. This includes requests for assistance using electronic communications devices during any emergency from a law enforcement agency, medical facility, or other agency or entity which has the primary purpose of providing for the safety of individuals.
The same law also establishes that it is an offense if a person recklessly renders an electronic communications device such as a telephone unusable that would otherwise be used by another person to place an emergency call or request assistance in an emergency from either a law enforcement agency, medical facility, or other agency or entity the primary purpose of which is to provide for the safety of individuals. Interference with an emergency request for assistance is typically a Class A misdemeanor but becomes a state jail felony if an alleged offender has previously been convicted for this crime.
It is important to note that Texas Penal Code § 42.062(d) defines the term emergency as meaning “a condition or circumstance in which any individual is or is reasonably believed by the individual making a call or requesting assistance to be in fear of imminent assault or in which property is or is reasonably believed by the individual making the call or requesting assistance to be in imminent danger of damage or destruction.”
Culpable Mental States in Tarrant County
Interference with an emergency request for assistance involves an alleged offender knowingly preventing or interfering with another person’s ability to place an emergency call or request assistance, or recklessly rendering an electronic communications device such as a telephone unusable. Both knowingly and recklessly have specific legal definitions under state law.
Under Texas Penal Code § 6.03, there are four culpable mental states, that are defined as follows:
- A person acts intentionally, or with intent, with respect to the nature of their conduct or to a result of their conduct when it is their conscious objective or desire to engage in the conduct or cause the result.
- A person acts knowingly, or with knowledge, with respect to the nature of their conduct or to circumstances surrounding their conduct when they are aware of the nature of their conduct or that the circumstances exist. A person acts knowingly, or with knowledge, with respect to a result of their conduct when they are aware that their conduct is reasonably certain to cause the result.
- A person acts recklessly, or is reckless, with respect to circumstances surrounding their conduct or the result of their conduct when they are aware of but consciously disregard a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that its disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the alleged offender’s standpoint.
- A person acts with criminal negligence, or is criminally negligent, with respect to circumstances surrounding their conduct or the result of their conduct when they ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the alleged offender’s standpoint.
When you are interfering with a person calling 9-1-1 was the result of criminal negligence, then a criminal conviction may not be possible. Intentional acts, however, will mean that a crime was committed and convictions are still possible.
Texas Definition of Emergency
In addition to the definition provided under Texas Penal Code § 42.062(d), an emergency must involve another person believing they are going to be the victim of an assault or that their property is about to be damaged or destroyed. This means that an emergency call does not necessarily have to relate to a call for medical assistance.
It will not be a crime to prevent a person from calling any person they want to call. Interference with an emergency call or request for assistance needs to involve an alleged victim attempting to report an emergency or request medical assistance and contact a specific type of recipient.
An alleged offender cannot prevent or interfere with another person’s efforts to contact a law enforcement agency, medical facility, or some other agency or entity that helps to provide for the safety of individuals. Examples of acceptable recipients of emergency calls in these situations can include:
- 9-1-1 operators
- Local or state police officers
- Federal law enforcement agencies
- Hospitals and/or a doctor’s office
- Fire departments and/or Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs).
Preventing another person from calling 9-1-1 to report a crime will itself be a crime. Still, criminal charges are not applicable when a person prevents another person from calling a friend or spouse. The recipient of an emergency call has to be some kind of law enforcement agency, medical facility, or other entity that protects the public.
Interference with 911 Penalties in Tarrant County
Interfering with an emergency call is usually a misdemeanor offense for most first-time offenses. Repeat crimes can result in state jail felony charges though.
Convictions will typically be punishable as follows:
- Class A Misdemeanor — Up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000
- State Jail Felony — Up to two years in Texas state jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000
Tarrant County Interference with Emergency Request for Assistance Resources
Senate Committee on State Affairs — On the Commission on State Emergency Communications (CSEC) website, you can learn more about appropriate times to call 9-1-1. People should only use 9-1-1 when lives are at risk or when they need the police, fire department, or paramedics, but not if there is no emergency, people need help for animals (unless they pose a threat to the safety of a person), or as a game, prank, joke, or practice. You can also find other forms of help on this website such as Poison Control, the National Suicide Hotline, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Texas 911 | Home | Texas Kari’s Law | 9-1-1 Authority Search — Kari Hunt was a woman who was murdered by her estranged husband at a motel room in Marshall, Texas, in 2013, and her 9-year-old daughter attempted to call 9-1-1 from the room but was unable to get through because she did not know she had to dial “9” for an outside line. Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 788 (also known as Texas Kari’s Law) on May 15, 2015, and Texas Administrative Code Rule § 251.16 went into effect on March 1, 2016 which requires direct access to 9-1-1 services without a user needing to first dial an initial number, digit, prefix or other access number or code before dialing 9-1-1. KLTV-TV reported that the jury deliberating the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Hunt against her convicted killer, OM Lodging, Wyndham Hotel Systems, and Baymont Franchises awarded the family $41,550,000 and assessed 80 percent fault on the estranged husband and 20 percent on OM Lodging.
Find A Tarrant County Defense Attorney for Interference with 911 Charges | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
Are you facing interference with an emergency request for assistance charges in Tarrant County? You really need to examine your legal options and ensure that you will have the help of a criminal defense lawyer when you appear in court.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy will be capable of negotiating the most favorable possible sentence for you and working to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. Call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to receive a consultation so we can further examine every aspect of your case and outline the legal defense options you might have.