Obstructing the Aid Response
We rely on law enforcement and EMTs to help us in our time of need. Access to emergency aid is a right, but sometimes this right is violated. In domestic violence cases, in particular, it is not uncommon for the alleged abuser to attempt to prevent the alleged victim from obtaining help. An alleged abuser might commit such an offense in the heat of an argument, but, in California and many states, this is a crime. Specifically, it's a crime to interfere with an emergency call, including emergency domestic violence calls. Many people don't realize this is a punishable offense, even if it's your phone you are tampering with. Let's take a look at the basics of this law and the penalties the court may impose for such an offense.
Under California Penal Code section 653t, it is a crime to knowingly and maliciously interfere, including interrupting, disrupting, or impeding, the transmission of a communication reporting or inquiring about an emergency (i.e. an emergency call) or a crime. This covers transmissions over landline phones, cell phones, radio, tablets, beepers, or any other form of electronic communication. The act could be anything from breaking a phone already in use, unplugging a landline, taking a phone away from someone, damaging phone lines or electrical lines (if using a landline), or disrupting service in some way. You can also be charged with interfering with an emergency call if you physically prevent someone from making a call, threaten him or her, or take the phone away from him or her during the transmission of the call. Domestic violence 911 calls constitute emergency calls. Further defined, an emergency is a condition or circumstance in which an individual is or reasonably believed to be in imminent danger of serious bodily injury, property is or reasonably believed to be in imminent danger of extensive damage or destruction, or in which injury or destruction have occurred, and the call is an attempt to summon emergency assistance.
Interference with an emergency telephone call is typically charged as a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, up to six months in a county jail, or both. If the individual needing assistance suffered serious bodily injury or there was more than $10,000 worth of property damage due to your interference, however, it is charged as a felony. For example, if you prevented the victim from calling 911 when injured in a domestic violence incident and that victim suffered a serious injury because you prevented him or her from summoning help, you could be charged with a felony.
As you can see, an act as simple as hanging up an emergency call or taking your cell phone away from someone who intended to call the police is a punishable offense. It is also an offense that has many contributing variables such as whether the victim suffered an injury and whether you committed the offense maliciously. Because of these reasons, it is essential to have an attorney help you if you are facing charges for interfering with an emergency call. You must have interfered knowingly and maliciously to be convicted, and these are both areas in which a skilled attorney can raise a defense. Accidentally interfering with an emergency call or doing so without malicious intent is not a crime.
Interfering with an emergency transmission is a very serious offense. If you are facing this charge, you should speak with an experienced California domestic violence defense attorney about your case. It's never a good idea to face these charges alone. An attorney can help you navigate your case from start to finish, so you remain aware of all your rights and your options for dealing with your case. An attorney can also give you the best chance at a more favorable outcome. Remember; the prosecuting attorney must prove you committed this offense knowingly and with malicious intent. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, your attorney could argue you did not knowingly commit the crime or did not have malicious intent when you did so.
Are you facing domestic violence or related charges? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his team for legal help in Tulare, Fresno or Kings County. Specializing in domestic violence defense, Mr. Martens can take immediate action in your case to leverage any mitigating circumstances. With over ten years experience in criminal defense, Attorney Martens has taken over 50 cases to trial and will not be afraid to do the same for you. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.