Top Ten Reasons Not to Call 911

 

Domestic violence is a serious issue requiring involvement of the court system and law enforcement to protect the safety of the victim and punish the offender. However, calling 911 and involving the court and law enforcement when there is a disagreement or argument can have life changing consequences for the couple involved in the dispute. All families should consider the top ten reasons not to call 911 – unless the call is truly needed to protect the safety of the individuals involved.

10. Once you call 911, the matter is out of your hands and in the hands of the police and the district attorney. There’s no such thing as deciding not to “press charges” once there is an arrest or a summons. It is the district attorney, and not the couple involved – who gets to decide whether or not there will be a criminal prosecution.

9. If a protection order (formerly called a “restraining order”) is entered following a 911 call, the couple can’t simply decide that it is OK to have contact with each other and ignore the protection order. Ignoring the protection order can result in criminal prosecution for the protected person and the alleged offender.

8. A protection order entered following a 911 call might preclude the alleged offender from holding or obtaining a job. If that happens, the alleged offender might not be able to pay child support, maintenance or debts and expenses of the family.

7. A protection order entered following a 911 call might result in the alleged offender not being able to rent an apartment, and can also result in the termination of an existing lease. If the couple involved in the domestic argument plans to live together in the rented home or apartment, that may no longer be possible following a 911 call.

6. A protection order entered following a 911 call may result in the alleged offender being precluded from obtaining or maintaining a professional license, teacher’s certificate, or commercial driver’s license. If that happens, the alleged offender might not be able to pay child support, maintenance or debts and expenses of the family.

5. A protection order entered following a 911 call may result in the alleged offender being unable to ever obtain a job as a police officer of firefighter.

4. A protection order entered following a 911 call may subject the alleged offender to felony charges if that person is ever around any weapons or ammunition, for any reason.

3. A protection order entered following a 911 call may result in the alleged offender being dishonorably discharged from the military and may result in loss of all benefits, retirement funds, bonuses, and medical care benefits.

2. A protection order entered following a 911 call may result in the alleged offender being unable to have joint decision making concerning the parties’ child, unless the alleged victim agrees or the Court finds special circumstances allowing the joint decision making.

1. A protection order entered following a 911 call may forever change the lives of the family in a way that was not intended at the time of the call.

There are alternatives to calling 911. Those alternatives include: (1) calling a friend or relative to help resolve a dispute; (2) voluntarily leaving the location where the argument is occurring, and returning when things have settled down; or (3) filing a divorce or legal separation case and serving the other person with the divorce or legal separation documents which include an automatic injunction prohibiting either party from disturbing the other party’s peace (this is different than a protection order). If there is not an immediate concern for the safety of the alleged victim, a 911 call should not be used to resolve family disputes.

Gregg A. Greenstein is a shareholder in the law firm of Frascona, Joiner, Goodman and Greenstein, P.C., a Colorado law firm. His practice areas include Real Estate, Litigation, Family Law, Divorce, and Adoption. Contact Gregg Greenstein.

Disclaimer -- Content is general information only. Information is not provided as advice for a specific matter, nor does its publication create an attorney-client relationship. Laws vary from one state to another. For legal advice on a specific matter, consult an attorney.

GREGG A. GREENSTEIN