Two reports of citizens interfering with emergency calls led to arrest and jail time this past week. Many people aren't aware that obstructing or preventing an emergency call is highly illegal, and can easily land you in jail.
James Matthew Dees of Warren grabbed a phone from a person trying to call 911 during a family violence situation and threw it. He was charged with resisting arrest search or transport and interfering with an emergency call.
In a second incident, John Richard Moore of Woodville wouldn't allow a woman to call for emergency services by keeping the phone from her. He was charged with assault causes bodily injury, assault causes bodily injury family violence and interfering with an emergency call.
According to Texas Penal Code 42.062, a person commits an offense if the individual "knowingly prevents or interferes with another individual's ability to place an emergency telephone call" or if the individual "recklessly renders unusable a telephone that would otherwise be used by another individual to place an emergency telephone call."
This offense is actually a Class A Misdemeanor and can become a State Jail Felony if this offense is committed more than once.
Thankfully, the Woodville Citizens trying to make emergency calls were eventually able to get the assistance they needed and the citizens trying to obstruct their calls were both charged with Interfering with Emergency Telephone Calls, Class A Misdemeanor.