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ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 11932
Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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I called 911 to report a person whom I believed to know might

Customer Question

I called 911 to report a person whom I believed to know might be unfit to drive due to stress, mental or substance induced state of mind. The police later charged me with a misdemeanor for using 911 to harass the individual because they claim he had been invited to my home. I wasn't entirely sure who it was at first but when I got to their car I believed it to be someone I knew. Regardless if I knew the person wouldn't this be a potential misuse of 911 rather than a harassment matter? My intent was to ensure their safety and the safety of those on the road, not to harass them. I even explained to the operator that I just wanted the police to ensure they weren't driving erratically. That is all.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 1 year ago.

ScottyMacEsq :

Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am researching your issue and will respond shortly.

ScottyMacEsq :

I'm sorry to hear your situation. Would there be any intent to harass this person? That is, is there any animosity that can be claimed, etc...?

Customer:

FYI the penal code on the citation is 653x

ScottyMacEsq :

In other words, in what way could someone argue that you intended to harass this individual?

ScottyMacEsq :

(thank you for the citation, I found that already...)

Customer:

We had been scheduled to go on a second date

Customer:

but they didn't appear

Customer:

I tried to contact them to see if they were ok

Customer:

they then contacted me online but didn't know it was me online and asked for an illicit encounter

Customer:

this concerned me as it was totally unlike their behavior

ScottyMacEsq :

Do you mean "him" or were you going on a double date (hence "they")?

Customer:

I wanted to talk to them so I gave them an address to meet me at

Customer:

which is a family home

Customer:

no I am not straight

Customer:

they were my date

ScottyMacEsq :

So this was a couple?

ScottyMacEsq :

(rather than an individual)?

Customer:

there were no ill words spoken or anything of the sort but when they saw me at the door they ran to their car and took off

Customer:

No this was an individual

Customer:

by they I mean the other party

Customer:

the other person

Customer:

The police claimed that since I didn't disclose to the 911 operator that I know the person that it was a problem

ScottyMacEsq :

You mention that it was not like him... Did you have another basis (other than the first date) to make a determination of the mental state of this individual?

Customer:

We had spent an entire day together and talked extensively about our lives and backgrounds

Customer:

this person is on the national ice skating team and has a very bright future ahead of them

Customer:

I was very surprised to see they would be making illicit house calls at midnight and going to unknown addresses

Customer:

I confronted them about this saying this was unsafe and they need to be carefil

Customer:

careful

Customer:

the individual was dismissive and agressive

Customer:

complete contrast from previous encounter

Customer:

I was concerned

ScottyMacEsq :

Thank you. Did you mention that you did not know him (to the 911 operator), or just failed to mention that you did?

Customer:

I honestly do not remember saying I did not know him

Customer:

I believe I said I was unsure because it was dark outside and I couldn't see clearly because the porch light is very dim

Customer:

I didn't know it was that person for sure until they texted me later

Customer:

claiming I made a false police report

ScottyMacEsq :

The reason that this is important is that it could go to the motive... The law specifically says: 653x. (a) Any person who telephones the 911 emergency line with the intent to annoy or harass another person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than six months, or by both the fine and imprisonment. Nothing in this section shall apply to telephone calls made in good faith. (b) An intent to annoy or harass is established by proof of repeated calls over a period of time, however short, that are unreasonable under the circumstances. (c) Upon conviction of a violation of this section, a person also shall be liable for all reasonable costs incurred by any unnecessary emergency response.

Customer:

I specifically told the operator I just wanted the police to ensure the person was ok to drive

Customer:

yes I have read the penal code

ScottyMacEsq :

As it says "Nothing in this section shall apply to telephone calls made in good faith."

ScottyMacEsq :

(I'm referencing it for our discussion)

Customer:

Oh got it

Customer:

but they have to prove that I had intent to harass

ScottyMacEsq :

The police will use the circumstances to try to establish the intent.

ScottyMacEsq :

Yes, beyond a reasonable doubt.

Customer:

Is it harassment to inform someone of the dangers of their behavior?

Customer:

or to wish to inform them?

ScottyMacEsq :

Now that can be established by a "jilted lover" theory, in that you were stood up, and you called 911 to harass this individual. I don't believe that is the case, as I have no reason to doubt you that you're telling me the truth (you wouldn't have any reason to lie to me).

Customer:

well I have pages of text messages with nothing but questions of if they are ok

ScottyMacEsq :

No, it's not harassment, but rather this is what the police (who can't really look into your head to see what you're really thinking) would be analyzing this case based ipon.

ScottyMacEsq :
upon
ScottyMacEsq :

How many text messages, and how far apart?

ScottyMacEsq :

And was there any indication on his part that he "broke it off", etc...?

ScottyMacEsq :

(aside from the illicit encounter that you found out about online)?

Customer:

Then I closed with "If you didn't want to hang out or you didn't feel like going on a date. You could always say so. At least you could have a friend."

ScottyMacEsq :

This is in the texts?

ScottyMacEsq :

(before you calling 911)?

Customer:

yes word for word

Customer:

oh yes

Customer:

this was at 8:24 PM

ScottyMacEsq :

Did you call 911 only once, or multiple times?

Customer:

the call to 911 was at 12:04 AM

Customer:

only once

Customer:

they answered right away and I read off the license plate as they were starting the car and peeling out of the road

Customer:

they took off at such a high speed... I guess they were startled but

Customer:

I merely offered to talk about what was going on to see if I could help

Customer:

when I saw they were online I sent a message saying Hi

Customer:

this was on an online chat system

ScottyMacEsq :

Did you take any steps to hide your identity when you were online?

ScottyMacEsq :

Or say you were someone else?

Customer:

they immediately said "looking for tonight?"

Customer:

I was curious to see if they were serious or not as this was absolutely contrary to everything they told me about themselves

Customer:

we had long extensive talks about not looking for those things and that they wanted the whole white picket fence american dream thing

Customer:

even up until about 7 Pm today they texted me saying they were on their way

Customer:

and then nothing

ScottyMacEsq :

And this person knew your other address (not the one you gave online) correct?

Customer:

Yes

Customer:

but I didn't go out of my way to contact them

Customer:

I had plenty of reason to be suspicious

Customer:

so anyway I asked if they wanted my address and he said "yea lol"

Customer:

I still wasn't sure if they were joking

Customer:

I gave them the address to the home I was at which is a family home

ScottyMacEsq :

Thank you for your information and candor. Again, I want you to understand that I have no reason to doubt what you're telling me is true and this is the way you truly felt. Again, I realize that you have nothing to gain from lying to me. That being said, the police will use the totality of the circumstances to try to establish the "jilted lover" theory. You had a date scheduled, he didn't show up. You texted him, multiple times, and ended with a "if you didn't want to hang out... you could have always said so..."

Customer:

they had not been there before

ScottyMacEsq :

Then...

ScottyMacEsq :

you make contact with him (admitedly not going out of your way) and give a different address, not disclosing to him (whom you know to be this person) this is you.

ScottyMacEsq :

You wait for him to come to the house, he sees you and drives away, and then you call 911.

ScottyMacEsq :

It seems possible that a jury could determine that this was with intent to harass.

ScottyMacEsq :

Again, I'm not saying it is. But from the facts that can be presented in this manner, it's possible that a jury could conclude that.

ScottyMacEsq :

It does have to be established beyond a reasonable doubt.

ScottyMacEsq :

And your version of the events and your rationale can be considered.

ScottyMacEsq :

What is actually said on the 911 tape could be very important.

Customer:

I agree with that

ScottyMacEsq :

If it's not something like "pull him over" but rather "please make sure he's okay...." then that would help establish your version.

Customer:

I believe I was pretty erratic on the call as I was just repeating the license plate so I wouldn't forget it

ScottyMacEsq :

(rather than being intent to harass)

Customer:

on the call I believe I told the operator that I the person was behaving strangely, caused a commotion at the door and then took off in their car

ScottyMacEsq :

And the behavior is important, but it might be established that you don't have the proper basis to make such a determination (having known this person for such a short period of time...)

ScottyMacEsq :

It certainly does go to your intent though.

Customer:

The only two pieces of evidence the police have to establish motive are my text messages, and one screen shot of the chat screen with him receiving the address

ScottyMacEsq :

Personally I would first try to argue that this statute does not apply. That is, in 653x (b) it says "An intent to annoy or harass is established by proof of repeated calls over a period of time, however short, that are unreasonable under the circumstances."

Customer:

even then it can't be proven that it was provided by me

Customer:

I had 2 idevices stolen from my home 2 weeks ago from a craigslist sale gone bad

Customer:

which I filed a police report with and have a detective working that case

ScottyMacEsq :

If you only called 911 once, that's not "repeated" calls. Now this argument might not work, in that the prosecution may say that (b) is not meant to be dispositive, but rather presumptive.

Customer:

understood

Customer:

however I believe the balance of good intent vs ill intent is still in my favor

Customer:

the police were mostly annoyed that I didn't specifically mention to the operator that I knew the person personally

Customer:

or might have known

ScottyMacEsq :

If anything, the argument is that while the facts don't look that good, it is certainly not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the intent to harass.

ScottyMacEsq :

And there's no requirement that you mention that you know the person, although this is often the case that it is mentioned.

ScottyMacEsq :

You can't lie (such as if you said that you did not know him).

Customer:

I did not lie

Customer:

I said it was dark and I couldn't be certain of who I saw

ScottyMacEsq :

Understood. I'm just saying that it's not illegal to not mention that you do know him.

Customer:

got it

Customer:

So let me ask this

Customer:

the police called me from a blocked number and asked for my name since the operator asked if I wanted to leave a name

Customer:

I said no it wasn't necessary

Customer:

I honestly did not want to embarrass the guy

Customer:

with the whole sexual thing

Customer:

I just wanted to make sure he was ok to drive

Customer:

I even told the police this is why I didn't go out of my way to explain the circumstances of my sucpicion

Customer:

suspicion

Customer:

but when they had me handcuffed in their car

Customer:

which they came to my home to arrest me at 2:14 am

Customer:

they did not arrest me and issued a citation but I specifically asked what this was about when they came to my home since I told them the matter wasn't critical if they could not locate him

Customer:

it was literally a warning to the 911 operator

Customer:

never a GO GET THIS GUY

Customer:

they asked me to open the door

Customer:

then asked me to step out and I asked if there was a problem

Customer:

they said no they just wanted to talk

Customer:

so I invited them in

Customer:

then they told me to turn around etc. etc.

Customer:

I am honestly confused

Customer:

it seemed like they were looking to pin something on me because they felt like they wasted their time

Customer:

they never once mentioned harassment until they were trying to figure out what to charge me with

Customer:

they only mentioned misuse of 911

Customer:

which I agreed that perhaps 911 wasn't the best route for the warning

Customer:

seems like I'll need an attorney to sort this mess out

ScottyMacEsq :

So is there a question that you have?

ScottyMacEsq :

(when you said "so let me ask this")

Customer:

chances of this going badly

Customer:

?

Customer:

best guess

ScottyMacEsq :

I would certainly suggest getting an attorney. Of course trying to get it out on the procedural issue of it being only one call, and arguing that this statute "defines" intent as being established after mutliple calls (which did not happen here).

ScottyMacEsq :

The police don't know the ins and outs of every crime.

ScottyMacEsq :

Most likely they have a short list of the names of the crime, and "misuse of 911" seemed appropriate.

ScottyMacEsq :

(in their eyes, even if they were wrong)

ScottyMacEsq :

Then you can attempt to work something out with the prosecutor.

ScottyMacEsq, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 11932
Experience: Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
ScottyMacEsq and 8 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 1 year ago.
Sorry for the delay, I had a power surge that shut off everything, and it takes a few minutes to get booted back up.

Like I said before, I would certainly suggest getting an attorney, as it would make pleading your case much easier. This is a misdemeanor, but having it on your record would mean that you would have to disclose it to employers, landlords, etc... and it would show on your public records. It's best to avoid it in the first place.

I think that you have a fair chance of getting the case thrown out, and if not, a fair chance of at least getting a "not guilty" due to your defenses.

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know.Thank you, and good luck to you!

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