The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) identifies as being the only nonprofit organization solely focused on improving 9-1-1, and it states that the three-digit phone number “9-1-1” has been designated as a “Universal Emergency Number” for all United States citizens to request emergency assistance. It is intended to be a nationwide telephone number that gives the public fast and easy access to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), but anybody who is accused of interfering with another party’s ability to call 9-1-1 in Texas needs to contact an interference with 911 attorney.
People must understand that even when this crime is classified as only a misdemeanor, a conviction can still carry serious consequences. In addition to time in jail or prison and big fines, you could also lose your right to own or possess a firearm and see a harmful impact on your ability to exercise child custody.
Interference with 911 Defense Lawyer in Plano, Allen, Frisco, and McKinney, TX
Were you recently arrested for interfering with a 9-1-1 phone call, contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (469) 304-3422 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Plano, Allen, Frisco, McKinney, TX, and surrounding areas of Collin County, Texas.
Our firm has a wealth of experience addressing these types of criminal charges and will know how to identify your strongest possible defenses. Contact us online to get a consultation that will allow us to fully explore all of your defense options and begin digging into the details of your particular case.
Texas Interference with Emergency Request for Assistance Charges
Texas Penal Code § 42.062 is the state law that makes it a crime for a person to knowingly prevent or interfere with another individual’s ability to place an emergency call or request assistance. The law includes requests for assistance that use electronic communications devices during any emergency from a law enforcement agency, medical facility, or other agency or entity with the primary purpose of providing for the safety of individuals.
Under Texas Penal Code § 42.062(b), it is also 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. While interference with an emergency request for assistance is usually a Class A misdemeanor, the offense becomes a state jail felony when an alleged offender has a previous conviction for this crime.
The term emergency is defined under Texas Penal Code § 42.062(d) 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 Collin County
An interference with an emergency request for assistance crime needs to involve 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. The terms knowingly and recklessly both have specific legal definitions in Texas.
Texas Penal Code § 6.03 defines the four culpable mental states as follows:
- A person acts intentionally, or with intent, with respect to the nature of their conduct or a result of their behavior when it is their conscious objective or desire to engage in the conduct or cause the effect.
- A person acts knowingly or with knowledge, concerning the nature of their conduct or to circumstances surrounding their behavior when they are aware of the nature of their conduct or that the circumstances exist. A person acts knowingly, or with knowledge, concerning a result of their behavior when they know that their conduct is reasonably sure to cause the effect.
- A person acts recklessly, or is reckless, concerning circumstances surrounding their conduct or the result of their behavior when they are aware of but consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the effect 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, concerning circumstances surrounding their conduct or the result of their behavior when they ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the effect 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.
These definitions mean that someone who interferes with someone calling 9-1-1 through criminal negligence cannot be convicted of crimes. Any intentional act, however, will still result in a conviction being possible.
Texas Definition of Emergency
While Texas Penal Code § 42.062(d) specifically defines an emergency as needing to 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, it also means that not every phone call constitutes an emergency. An emergency call does not need to relate to a call specifically for medical assistance.
It is not a crime to prevent a person from calling any person they feel like calling. Interference with an emergency call or request for assistance has to involve an alleged victim attempting to report an emergency or request medical assistance and contact a specific type of recipient.
An alleged offender may not prevent or interfere with another party’s attempt to contact a law enforcement agency, medical facility, or some other agency or entity that helps to provide for the safety of individuals. Acceptable recipients of emergency calls in these situations may 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).
Interfering with another person while they are calling 9-1-1 will be a crime, but it is not an offense if a person prevents another person from calling their friend or spouse. A recipient of an emergency call must be some kind of law enforcement agency, medical facility, or other entity that protects the public.
Interference with 911 Penalties in Collin County, TX
Texas Penal Code § 42.062(c) establishes that an interference with emergency request for assistance crime is a Class A misdemeanor. The exception to this rule concerns people who are committing repeat offenses, in which cases they can face state jail felony charges.
Convictions will carry different punishments, including:
- 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
Beyond imprisonment and fines, convictions can also carry many other consequences for alleged offenders. People who are convicted of these crimes can experience difficulty obtaining employment, be prohibited from working in certain fields, have difficulty renting or buying a home, be unable to secure financial loans, denied participation in certain government welfare programs, and lose professional licenses.
Collin County Interference with Emergency Request for Assistance Resources
Senate Committee on State Affairs — Visit the Commission on State Emergency Communications (CSEC) website to learn about the most appropriate times to call 9-1-1. The website states that 9-1-1 is only for use when lives are at risk or when people need the police, fire department, or paramedics, but not when there is no emergency, people are seeking help for animals (unless they pose a threat to the safety of a person), or making phone calls as part of a game, prank, joke, or practice. Other forms of help available through this website include 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 murdered by her estranged husband in a motel room in Marshall, Texas, in 2013, despite her 9-year-old daughter attempting to call 9-1-1 from the room but being unable to get through because she did not know she had to dial “9” for an outside line. Governor Greg Abbott later 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, requiring 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. In June 2018, KLTV-TV reported that a jury deliberating a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Hunt’s family against her convicted killer, OM Lodging, Wyndham Hotel Systems, and the 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 Collin County Attorney for Interference with 911 Charges | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
If you were recently arrested for interference with an emergency request for assistance anywhere in Collin County, you need to be sure that you have legal representation without any further delay. A criminal defense lawyer is going to be critical in helping you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy understands all kinds of family violence charges and knows how to appropriately investigate these cases so we can secure the kinds of evidence that you will need to prove your innocence. You may call (469) 304-3422 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation so we can really dig into the details of your case and begin discussing what we might be able to do to help you.