Interfering with Emergency Communications in North Carolina


Crimes of Domestic Violence are often some of the most serious charges a person can face. In North Carolina, crimes that have been marked as domestic violence crimes can carry long standing and often very harsh consequences that many similar charges would not. One of the most serious crimes of domestic violence is that of interfering with emergency communications. Punishable as an A1 misdemeanor, a conviction of interfering with emergency communications always carries the possibility of an active sentence or time in jail.

In order to prove the crime of interfering with emergency communications the government only needs to prove that the defendant; interfered with an emergency communication, that they knew it was an emergency communication, and that they were not the person trying to make the communication to report the emergency. The government does not need to prove that there was an act of domestic violence or that there was any violence at all, only that the person making the communication thought that there was an emergency situation and that they were trying to contact the authorities or first responders.

What is an emergency communication? The most well-known form of emergency communication is a 911 call. An example of an emergency communication is when in a domestic violence situation one party tells the other, they are going to call the cops and then dial 911. It does not have to be a 911 call though; any form of emergency communication can be used to prove this crime. For example, many sporting events and concerts have messaging apps or text message numbers for people to quietly or discreetly get in touch with the authorities, for the purposes of trying to prove interfering with an emergency communication, these would suffice.

The second thing the government would have to prove is that the defendant knew the communication they’re interfering with is an emergency communication. Simply being told by the person trying to communicate to the authorities that they are calling the police or calling 911 will be enough to give the defendant this kind of notice. If the defendant was told that the other person was calling the police, the court will usually find that the defendant knew it was an emergency communication.

What methods are considered interfering with an emergency communication? This can be as simple as taking the person’s phone from them or knocking it out of their hands. Any kind of interference may be enough no matter how big or how small. In the context of a 911 call, another important fact to keep in mind is that it does not matter who owns the phone or who the phone is primarily used by. Often in the context of domestic violence situations one party will say that they weren’t trying to interfere with an emergency communication that they were simply taking their phone back. If the person who has the phone has told the defendant that they are using the phone to contact the authorities or first responders then it does not matter whose phone it is, even if it’s the defendant’s phone; taking the phone or interfering in any way with the call may result in this charge being brought against you.

If you have been charged with interfering with emergency communications or you have questions about any domestic violence charge, contact Jetton & Meredith today to speak with one of our experienced Criminal Defense attorneys.