We all want to help when a person is in trouble. Yet interfering with an emergency call is a crime that can and does happen. As a result, many states, including Oklahoma, have passed laws making it against the law to interfere with an emergency call. Here is more information about how the crime typically occurs and how it is handled in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Interfering With An Emergency Call Defined
It is against the law in Oklahoma to intentionally interfere, interrupt, or impede anyone who is attempting to, or is in the process of, making or placing an emergency telephone call. The crime is a misdemeanor in Tahlequah. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1211.1
How The Crime Often Occurs
Most often, the crime occurs during the commission of another crime. For example, in a domestic violence situation, one partner may be striking or threatening to strike the other. As the victim grabs a cell phone to call the police, the batterer may take the cell phone away or destroy it before it can be used.
It can occur as well during the commission of a burglary or robbery. A witness sees a crime being committed and the assailant threatens to hit the witness or merely grabs their phone while the witness is calling the crime in.
It may occur at the scene of an accident when a party to the accident doesn’t want the other party to call the police to come to the scene. These are just examples, but they are informative.
What Rises To The Level Of Interference?
Interference can mean to obstruct, meddle, prevent, hinder, block, hold back, interrupt, impede, or deter. Grabbing, destroying, and hiding a cell phone would be enough. Ripping a phone from the wall in a fit of rage would be enough. Blocking access to the phone would also be sufficient.
The interference must be intentional to rise to the level of a criminal act. Accidentally turning and making a person drop a phone is probably not enough, even if the moment is heated.
However, verbally intimidating another person into hanging up the call may be enough to constitute interference with an emergency call if done so in a manner that puts the other in fear and causes them to hang up the phone or forgo making the call as a result.
Once someone starts to make a call for emergency services or begins the attempt to do so, it is a crime to stop that process. This includes hanging up, breaking the phone, intimidating the other into not making the call, cutting phone wires, or any other action that may interfere with the call.
The crime is punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $3,000, or both.
Defenses To Interfering With An Emergency Call
There may be defenses available to you if you are being charged. Accident and mistake are two of the most common defenses. If you accidentally grab the phone or it is done by mistake, there is no ill intent.
There are always two sides to the story and facts are very important in these cases. And the timing of what was said and what occurred can be crucial in these cases. Get the help you need from a Tahlequah attorney today.
Free Consultation: Tahlequah Criminal Defense Lawyer
Please contact a Tahlequah criminal defense lawyer to discuss your available legal options if you’ve been charged with interfering with an emergency call in Oklahoma.
For a free consultation, call Wirth Law Office – Tahlequah at 918-458-2677 or toll-free at 1-888-447-7262.
Or, if you prefer e-mail, you may enter a legal question in the form at the top right of this page and we’ll contact you by e-mail as soon as possible.