Interference with a 911 Emergency Call

Interference with a 911 Emergency Call

Interference with a 911 Emergency Call is usually paired with a Family Violence case. It involves a situation where an attempt to call 911 is made during an assault, and the person is prevented (or interrupted) from calling 911.

A case involving Interference with a 911 Emergency Call usually involves a couple arguing, where one party feels the situation is getting out of hand. Or, one party decides they want the other person to leave, who refuses. Once the decision is made to call 911, police, or an emergency call, interference can trigger an arrest. This includes grabbing the phone away, breaking a phone, ripping out landline wires, or otherwise preventing a call from being made.

These cases often rely heavily upon witness or alleged victim testimony, since often the only evidence is a 911 hangup and a person's statements. If the 911 operator can hear arguments and incriminating statements such as "hang up, give me that phone now or else!" then obviously that type of situation would be more difficult to contest.

You can read the specific Statute and be sure to also see the Punishments for Interference with a 911 Emergency Call below.


What You Need To Know

Interference with an Emergency Call is considered within the genre of family violence offenses, so in Travis County this offense will usually be set in the Family Violence Court (County Court #4). If convicted, a Judge can make a "Family Violence Finding," which has adverse consequences that may include the loss of right to possess firearms, ammunition, and more.

Under the Statute, it is a violation if a person "knowingly prevents or interferes with another individual's ability to place an emergency call or to request assistance." This includes cell phones. Also, the law encompasses more than just 911. Interference with an Emergency Call also includes calling law enforcement and medical facilities -- as long as the primary purpose of which is to provide for the safety of individuals.

Another portion of the Interference with an Emergency Call statute makes it illegal to "recklessly" break a phone or cause it to be unusable (such as ripping out a phone cord). Because 'recklessly' is required, this part of the law is sometimes easier for a prosecutor to prove. Under this section, there is no requirement that a person is calling or dialing for help.


Closely Related Offenses

Because Interference with an Emergency Call is usually paired with Family Violence, related areas obviously include the three varieties of Family Violence, as well as regular Assault. If the person being allegedly assaulted is a family member or in a (past or present) dating relationship, then the offense can fall under a subcategory of Assault, which is Assault Causes Bodily Injury Family Violence.

At the felony level, there is a similar offense if the person has a prior assault family violence (or related) on their record, which is Assault Causes Bodily Injury Dating, Family, Household Member.

Lastly, if there is the allegation of a person using thier hands on the other person's throat, the case is enhanced to a 3rd Degree Felony, Assault by Strangulation. This charge is also known as Assault Intentionally or Recklessly Impede Breath Circulation

A Full List of Assault Offenses can be found below, or by clicking Assault Offenses in Texas.

Jail Release and Bond for Interference with an Emergency Call

Interference with an Emergency Call cases generally require an attorney or bail bond company to get out of jail, as Judges' seem more reluctant to grant personal bonds on cases related to Family Assault. In Travis County, Judges' commonly need to hear from the alleged victim prior to agreeing to release, especially since Governor Abbot's Covid related Governor's Orders.

Sometimes an officer will file arrest warrant, which will require a Walkthrough to clear the Arrest Warrant. Doing a Walkthrough quickly is important, because most of the time a person does not go into the jail during the surrender process.

Legislative Update 2021: Senate Bill 6 Passed. Senate Bill 6, passed in the legislature in 2021, drastically altered the availability of personal bonds in the criminal justice system. As a reminder, a personal bond is a release from jail by the court without needing to pay for it. Senate Bill 6, specifically Art. A17.027, mainly prohibits a new Judge from releasing a person on a personal bonds if that person was re-arrested while out on bond for certain offenses. In other words, a situation where a person was already released on bond, and that case is still pending -- and then they are arrested on a new (usually violent) charge. In that situation, the original Judge (the one presiding over the first arrest) has control over personal bonds, to an extent. This is a newly evolving statute and law, and only certain offenses apply, so call us if you or your loved one has been either re-arrested or has a warrant while already on bond with a pending case.

Call us for more details if you have an Active Travis County Arrest Warrant.

Keates Law Firm can act quickly to assist with a personal bond to release that person. Be sure to read more about Bond, Personal Bonds, and Travis County Jail Releases.


Defenses for Interference with an Emergency Call

One possible defense is whether a person 'knowingly' interfered with an emergency call. Keates Law Firm has had several cases where one person tells the other "I'm calling your sister to come pick you up, you can't stay here." The other person, who does not want the sister to be involved, hangs up the phone -- when in reality, it was 911 who was called, and not the sister. In a situation like that, the accused's intent was not to interfere with an emergency call.

There is also the issue of whether a call was being places for an "emergency." Under the code,

an emergency means a 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.

If you'd like to talk in detail about your situation, or if you have questions, contact us for a Free Case Consultation. Keep in mind, Keates Law Firm only practices in Austin and Travis County.


Work with an Experienced Interference with an Emergency Call Attorney

Hiring the right attorney from the beginning is important. Poor legal decisions will have a negative effect upon the case as it progresses. The Keates Law Firm has over 16+ Years Experience handling Interference with an Emergency Call cases. Our focus is to try and have the case dismissed against you. We don't even discuss pleas until all legal and negotiation options have been explored in detail.


Call Us to talk about your particular case and situation. It's a 100% Free Phone Consultation with Criminal Defense Attorney Keates. No Sales Pitches, No Hassles. We'll see if we are the right Law Firm for you, and give you a quote. Be sure to check out Keates Law Firm's Reviews and also our past cases and Results.


How We Can Help

Your goal should be Dismissal for any Interference with an Emergency Call charge. While not every case can be dismissed, often times the goal becomes avoiding jail, or getting a reduced charge, or even getting a favorable probation with a possible dismissal at the end, called Deferred Adjudication. If dismissed, a person can later seek an Expunction of a Criminal Record, which is where a Judge Orders the offense records destroyed, including police reports, court records, and prosecutor files.

Likewise, if Deferred Adjudication is successfully completed, the person can have thier record sealed through Motions for NonDisclosure.

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The Law in Texas on Interference with a Emergency Call


Sec. 42.062 Interference with a Emergency Call.

(a) An individual commits an offense if the individual knowingly prevents or interferes with another individual's ability to place an emergency call or to request assistance, including a request for assistance using an electronic communications device, in an emergency from a law enforcement agency, medical facility, or other agency or entity the primary purpose of which is to provide for the safety of individuals.

(b) An individual commits an offense if the individual recklessly renders unusable an electronic communications device, including a telephone, that would otherwise be used by another individual to place an emergency call or to request assistance in an emergency from a law enforcement agency, medical facility, or other agency or entity the primary purpose of which is to provide for the safety of individuals.



What are the Punishments?

Interference with a Emergency Call is primarily a misdemeanor, but it can also be charged as a felony be either Misdemeanors or felonies if the accused has a prior Interference with a 911 Emergency Call.


Penalties for Interference with a 911 Emergency Call
Level of Offense Punishment
Class C Misdemeanor Not Applicable
Class B Misdemeanor Not Applicable
Class A Misdemeanor Not more than 1 year in a county jail, and/or no more than $4,000 fines
State jail felony 180 days to 2 years in a state jail, and/or no more than $10,000 fines
Assault Felony Assault Causes Bodily Injury Dating, Family, Household Member Assault Causes Bodily Injury Family Violence Assault Impede Breath, Circulation Interference with 911 Call Violation of Protective Order

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