Legal Review: Interfering With an Emergency Call

If you or someone else’s life is in danger, you would probably first consider calling 911. However, when the threat to life is due to another person, you may be hesitant to call in their presence for fear of reiteration.

For example, a husband or wife that has been a victim of assault in a case of domestic abuse may want to be discreet when making a call to avoid further assault.

If they attempt to make a call and the other person stops them or interrupts their call, that person can be said to have interfered with a 911 call, which is a criminal offense under CGS Section 53a-183b.

Understanding Interference with a 911 Call

There are several definitions of interfering with a 911 call in Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-183b. The basic definition is intentionally hindering or preventing an individual from making a 911 call to seek help from the police or report a crime. There are two forms of interference as stipulated under the law – physical and verbal interruption.

Physical interference refers to using physical force to prevent the other person from making a call. Some examples of this include breaking their phone, snatching the phone from the hands of the 911 caller, hanging up the phone, and other forms of physical disruption of a call.

Verbal interference involves taking over the phone and giving the wrong information about the situation. For example, telling the operator that there is no problem while there is one is a form of verbal interference. A person can also be charged with verbal interference if they use verbal threats against the caller to keep them from making a call or to force them to hang up.

Consequences of Interfering With a 911 Call

If you are arrested for interfering with a 911 call, you will be looking at potential class A misdemeanor charges that carry penalties of up to one year in jail, probation, and fines not exceeding $2,000.

Since most cases of interfering with a 911 call result from domestic abuse cases, they can result in other consequences, such as restraining orders, because the court may deem the victim living around the perpetrator to be unsafe. The judge may apply any of the three types of restraining orders: full no contact; full residential stay-away; or partial.

Full no-contact restraining orders bar the perpetrator from having any contact with the victim, which includes being barred from returning home. In the full residential restraining order, you are allowed some contact but cannot enter the protected person’s residence. A partial restraining order is the most lenient of the three; it allows you contact, including living with the victim but under conditions that you will not subject them to any form of threatening or intimidation.

Get Legal Help

“Facing an arrest for interfering with a 911 call doesn’t always mean you are guilty of the offense you are charged with. Sometimes it can be a false accusation,” says Attorney Mark Sherman of The Law Offices of Mark Sherman, LLC.

For example, the other person could make a call and drop it midway. If this happens, there is a high chance that the police will appear anyway. If the other person then claims that you are the reason they hang up, you could be charged with interference with the call.

Due to the emotive nature of domestic abuse cases, getting off the hook can be quite a task, so the best thing to do in such situations is to speak to a lawyer. Even when you think you are not innocent, a lawyer can help better the outcomes of your case by leveraging available options, such as accelerated rehabilitation if you are a first-time offender.

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