When you're the victim of a fake or malicious 911 call, you may be wondering what steps you can take to protect yourself -- and perhaps even get back at the person who made the call.
George Zimmerman may be wondering about this himself, after his estranged wife Shellie called 911 during a domestic dispute and claimed her husband was waving a gun around. As police did not find a gun when they detained him, some are speculating that the 911 call was meant to make George look bad in the public eye. (News flash, Shellie: George doesn't need any help with that.)
Here are four tips to keep in mind if you ever fall victim to a fake 911 call:
- Remain calm. Though you may be caught off guard when the police show up in response to a fake or malicious 911 call, it's crucial that you keep a level head and remain calm. Don't rush out, make sudden movements, or start shouting. Such reactions could escalate the danger of the situation and lead to more serious police action, cautions the FBI.
- Cooperate with police. Remember, the police relied on the call in good faith and are not to blame for this situation. It's important to cooperate with them. They are on the side of justice, and will sort out the matter more quickly if you do as they ask. Let them go through their standard protocol before you launch into your tirade about how they've been fooled by a faker.
- Explain what you think happened. Take a moment to collect your thoughts and then try to calmly explain to the police why you believe the 911 call was fake or malicious. It's important to build credibility, so be sure to include as many supporting facts as possible.
- File a police report. Falsely reporting a crime to police is a misdemeanor. Whether it's part of a bad revenge plot or not, making a false report or misusing the 911 system, with the added danger of an innocent victim potentially getting killed, can warrant pretty serious criminal action. Initiate legal action against whoever made the call and don't treat it as a practical joke you can just ignore.
On the flipside, don't think about retaliating by giving fake callers a taste of their own medicine. Remember, prank calls to the police can get you arrested as well.
- Can Prank Calls Get You Arrested? (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Too Many 911 Calls Can Get You Arrested (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Real Police or Impersonator? Here's How to Tell (FindLaw's Blotter)
- IL Man Calls 911 Looking for a Fight. Cops Show Up to House and Oblige (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)