Willful and Malicious Interference with a Call for Help

In Michigan, it is a crime to interfere, stop, break, or prevent someone from attempting to get help or assistance from another, including law enforcement, by phone or with a computer.  

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Felony Interference With a 911 Call or Call for Help

Suppose two family members or a husband and wife get into a heated argument. One person tries to call the police, a friend, or another family member for assistance. The other person, hoping to de-escalate an out-of-control situation and prevent third-party interference, attempts to stop them from calling. Trying to interfere with the call to law enforcement or anyone else, often called “Interference With a 911 Call,” is a crime.

Even if the accused intended only to have a moment to calm the situation and talk, stopping someone from seeking assistance or interfering with a 911 call is a felony. Under Michigan law, the felony statute is not limited to phone calls. Interfering with any electronic or digital communication, including an email or text, is sufficient.

Under the same law, it is also a felony to intentionally intercept, read, or view a message without permission from someone seeking help.

Causes of Interference with a Call for Police Assistance Charges

Three circumstances might precipitate an interference call to 911, the police, or another third party. First, someone might lie to the police and falsely allege another person prevented them or attempted to prevent them from reporting a crime or asking for help. Furthermore, there might be a misunderstanding. Suppose a husband and wife get into an argument that becomes physical, and the husband grabs the wife’s phone because he does not have his phone and wants to call for help. The wife might report that she intended to call the police, and her husband prevented her from doing so. She might have intended to call the police, but her husband might not have known. Or on the other hand, she might lie to gain sympathy and falsely charge her husband.

The third impetus for a charge of interference with a communication requesting assistance is because the accused is guilty. In this case, mitigating facts might provide sufficient evidence to support a plea bargain or lenient sentence. Unfortunately, judging someone in hindsight for an impulsive or thoughtless decision is easy. The truth is generally in the middle. Extenuating circumstances can put a seemingly malicious act in a different perspective by a persuasive, credible criminal defense attorney.

Penalties for Interference with a Call for Help

Interfering with a 911 call or a call for help is a serious offense that draws scrutiny from prosecutors and judges. Domestic violence charges often accompany felony interfering with a call or communication charges in Michigan. Judges are usually more upset about the interference with the communication than the assault.

The penalty for interference with a 911 call or electronic communication is two (2) years imprisonment, up to five (5) years of probation, and a $1,000.00 fine. If the incident to be reported results in injury or death, the maximum sentence increases to four (4) years in prison, five (5) years of probation, and $5,000.00.

Elements of the Offense

All crimes are made up of parts called “elements.” The prosecution must prove every element beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements of interfering with an electronic medium of communication, such as a 911 call, are as follows:

  •  (1) A person shall not willfully and maliciously cut, break, disconnect, interrupt, tap, or make any unauthorized connection with any electronic communication medium, including the internet, a computer, or a telephone.
  • (2) A person shall not willfully and maliciously read or copy any message from the internet, a computer, or a telephone that the person accessed without authorization.
  • (3) A person shall not willfully and maliciously prevent, obstruct, or delay the sending or delivery of a communication.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Regarding Interference with a 911 Call

What is interfering with electronic communications charge Michigan?

The phone tampering statute makes it a felony to interfere with electronic communication mediums, including phones, computers, and devices accessing the internet. It includes “willfully and maliciously” interrupting service or delivery and reading or copying messages without authorization.

What is the charge for harassing communications in Michigan?

Using a phone, computer, electronic device, or the internet to harass someone is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.00. This offense differs from interference with a 911 call or request for help.

What is Malicious Use of Telecommunication Services in Michigan?

Malicious use of a telecommunications service is a misdemeanor. Anyone who maliciously uses a telecommunications service with intent to terrorize, frighten, intimidate, threaten, harass, molest, or annoy another person or disturb their peace and quiet by (1) threatening physical harm or damage, (2) falsely and deliberately reporting that a person is injured or ill, (3) using vulgar, indecent, obscene, or offensive language or suggesting any lewd or lascivious act, (4) repeatedly initiating a telephone call and, without speaking, deliberately hanging up, (5) making an unsolicited commercial telephone call between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m., or (6) repetitively interrupting someone’s telecommunications service, is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail.

What does interfering with communications mean?

Generally, it means intentionally hindering or preventing an individual from making or completing a call to the police or 911 dispatch requesting police protection or reporting the commission of a crime.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

Your Best Defense Against Interfering with a 911 Call or Request for Assistance

The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has decades of experience defending against felony charges such as Interfering with a 911 Call or Communication. Because of our outstanding reputation with judges and prosecutors, we frequently achieve outcomes unobtainable by other lawyers. If you call us for a free consultation, we will take the time to listen to you, answer your questions, and address your concerns. Our attorneys and staff will treat you with dignity and respect. It is our job to help you, not judge you. Do not hesitate to call us for a free consultation when you need help; there is no room for errors and false promises when it comes to your freedom and reputation.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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