Can Calling 9-1-1 Get You into Trouble?
When an emergency arises in which you need the assistance of a first responder (i.e. police, fire department or paramedics), it is in your best interest to call 9-1-1. The operator has direct communication with the personnel you need and will stay on the line with you until assistance arrives. The 9-1-1 system is a useful resource, one that does have limited capabilities based on the number of operators available. The same holds true for all of our emergency responders. If you were to call without a real emergency, you might face charges for disorderly conduct.
How It Causes a Problem
Many dispatch centers have a limited number of operators available to answer phones. They have all heard their share of off-the-wall phone calls, including but not limited to:
- A cheating boyfriend,
- A debit card being declined, and
- A person is smoking in a non-smoking area.
These may be comical to think about, but they occur so often that many locations have developed individual campaigns to combat these types of calls. The problem is that if the lines are busy because someone crossed a street improperly but was unharmed, then that dispatcher is not available to respond to and assist someone who was just involved in a multiple vehicle collision with severe injuries.
On the other hand, there are those situations where someone makes a false report or SWATing. SWATing is a prank accomplished by reporting a high emergency situation at a random victim’s home. Pranksters make up imaginary situations requiring tactical force, such as a taking of hostages, with the goal of having the SWAT team employed. When pranks such as these occur even at a lower capacity, it is a waste of taxpayers' money that may additionally prevent the involved personnel from responding to a real crisis.
As of this year, punishments have increased in an attempt to dissuade pranksters and false reporters from continuing. Additionally, responding to less unnecessary calls should theoretically make the lives of our first responders a little safer. The penalties that anyone convicted can face are:
- Harsh fines of up to $10,000, and
- Restitution payment to those involved including the cost for the responders to arrive and the equipment used.
If you have been charged with disorderly conduct for calling 9-1-1 for reasons other than a real emergency, the penalties can be life-altering if convicted. It is important that you contact an experienced legal professional to handle your case, rather than hoping the case will be forgotten or dropped. If you are interested in discussing the circumstances of your case with an experienced Maywood, IL criminal defense attorney, contact Stringini & Garvey, P.C. today at 630-834-9595 to schedule your free initial consultation. We proudly serve clients in Glendale Heights, Lombard, Bloomingdale and all surrounding Chicagoland areas.