Sometimes, and I mean only sometimes, the clients charged with improperly calling 911 for no good reason are doing it as a call for help. Maybe it’s something like they are chickening out of a suicide and don’t know who else to call, or maybe they are so down on their luck and desperate to sober up they just can’t figure out what else to do. I feel bad for those types. If I can find some evidence of the problem such as treatment records or whatever then the prosecutors almost always dismiss the charge. It’s the right thing to do since a lot of the time the 911 call got my client social services and into a treatment program or something and it’s unlikely a criminal conviction is going to accomplish anything. The law enforcement data system has the record of the arrest and that is enough for the police.
Another kind of 911 abuser is the drunk on a bender trying to be funny. They call 911 to report that someone stole their illegally possessed narcotics. They call 911 on their cell and pretend to be a crime victim living in the house across the street so that their friend gets their front door busted down by a bunch of heavily armed cops. Occasionally they call 911 a bunch of times to tell stupid jokes and tease the operator. Every single time they hire a lawyer like me it is several days later, they are finally sober, and they say something like “I can’t believe I did that.” I have a three-ring notebook full of the police reports from these cases. I keep them just for laughs.
Then there are the screwballs like Mr. Lorenzo Riggins. He drove to his local McDonald’s restaurant and in his own words “went in to order seven McDoubles and one McChicken and one fry.” Lets see…at 390 calories per McDouble, that’s 2,730 calories plus another 360 for the McChicken and 500 for the fries… so he wanted 3,590 calories for lunch. He’s the big guy in the picture to the right. I suppose I can see him pigging out on big bag of heart attack.
Well, Riggins said that he paid for his order, picked up his big bag of cholesterol and left. But when he got back to his truck he looked in the bag and figured out he only had six McDoubles. Horror of all horrors. McDonalds cheated him out of a dollar but saved him from 390 completely unnecessary calories.
They should get a blue ribbon, but Riggins didn’t like it one bit. He went back inside to talk to the manager and in his own words again: “She was trying to get an attitude with me, and I said I’m going to call the police.”
So he did. “I called the police” Riggins said, and thought everything was “cool.” “I didn’t know I was misusing 911” he said. Right. Like you think cops have nothing better to do than help you get that seventh McDouble.
Well, it wasn’t ‘cool’ with the cops who caused Riggins a lot of McTrouble, just like they do to every other idiot who calls 911 to report something like this. He spent the night in jail and posted bond the next day. The funny thing is that he’s upset because he says he never got a chance to explain his side of things to police. I doubt that very much. I bet he was singing his woes and yelling at the police from the back of the cruiser the whole trip down to the station.
“I want justice, I want to be treated like a person with respect and any other person with respect, but I never knew that I was misusing 911,” said Riggins. Sure buddy. In the interview on TV he had a tip for every savvy consumer of huge bags of empty calories: “I would like to say check your food before you leave, always be careful when you go buy food anywhere you go,” said Riggins.
The thing is, every one of these idiots – especially the ones who get a little taste of notoriety in the paper or on TV – refuse plea deals. They want a trial because they think they won in the court of public opinion. Sometimes they just can’t see what they really did because they have Facebook followers or whatnot. They become a stupid meme and don’t realize the joke is on them. I end up having to try every one of these cases and they turn into a circus. The poor clerk looks like she is going to die on the witness stand and the 911 operator is brain dead from lack of sleep. sometimes their supervisor sits in the courtroom the entire time with a livid expression on their face. I usually even see the jury rolling their eyes. I apologize to the Judge afterwards.