Before Your 9-1-1 Call: Six Quick Tips


Every day the news reports that some of our fellow citizens get out of control and make mistakes in how they comport themselves, and that can lead to hard feelings, then need to defend yourself, and then maybe a call to 9-1-1 after matters have been settled. If you have to call 9-1-1 for help, Independent Program Attorneys have some bullet-point advice on how you should handle the emergency call:

The Do’s:

  1. “Victim of a Crime”

When you speak to the dispatcher, begin by telling them you have been the victim of a crime. This is a simple way to start the conversation that puts responders in the correct frame of mind. This can have a positive effect on the way you are approached and treated at the scene.

  1. Keep it Brief

The only information the dispatcher needs from you is your name, the location of the emergency, what emergency services are needed, and that you are the victim of a crime. Information about the incident itself should be given later after you speak to your attorney.

  1. Hang Up!

After you have given the dispatcher the necessary information, hang up the phone and call your Texas Law Shield Independent Program Attorney.


The Don’ts:

  1. Do not discuss the facts.

All 9-1-1 calls are recorded. In the chaotic, emotional moments after an emergency, you are likely still processing what has just happened. This is not the best time to recount everything on a recorded phone call. If what you say does not match the physical or material evidence at the scene, you may have a huge problem regardless of how innocent your mistake may be.

  1. Do not say, “I killed them.”

You want to avoid saying something like “I shot them,” or “I killed them.” As you know, all 9-1-1 calls are recorded and can be used at trial. Words like these have a negative connotation and can create negative feelings in the minds of the jury.

  1. Do not remain on the phone.

The longer you stay on the phone, the more likely you are to say something that can get you in trouble. Even if what you say is perfectly accurate, a tape played in front of a jury can be misinterpreted or taken out of context. For an example of how staying on the phone can cause you problems, just look at the Joe Horn case from a few years ago.

Keep these tips in mind if you should ever find yourself needing to make a call to 9-1-1 in an emergency situation. They might just stop you from talking yourself into a hole… or a CELL!  — by Walker & Byington, Independent Program Attorneys for Texas & U.S. Law Shield

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