Being the victim of a crime and having to defend yourself is a scary thing to live through. Even more frightening is the potential of being victimized again by the legal system if you fail to take the proper steps to protect yourself. Here are three rules of a 911 Call to help set the stage for a strong defense.
Call As Soon As Possible
Highly respected law enforcement officer and firearms instructor Chuck Haggard offers the best bit of advice about calling 911 in his classes; Be the first person to call 911 no matter what happens. This means call even if no one is injured. Why is it so important to be the first person to call? Because the person who makes the initial 911 call gets to set the framework of the incident.
Imagine you are working in your yard and someone comes up and attempts to assault or rob you. You brandish your firearm and the person runs off. You don’t think anymore about it and go back to work. A short time later the police arrive and arrest you because they received a call that some crazy person was standing in their yard waving a gun around. Now your failure to report the incident as a victim has allowed someone else to identify you as the aggressor.
No matter how minor the incident may seem, always report it. Just as soon as it is safe to do so, call 911. This allows you to set the tone of what happens next. Juries believe that innocent people report crimes, guilty people hide them.
Just the Facts Ma’am
Both US LawShield and US Conceal Carry have similar advice for self-defense use 911 calls and that is keep it simple. When you call, state your name and that you have been the victim of an attack. Be very clear in that point. You were the victim of an attack. This establishes right away your position in the situation.
After identifying yourself as the victim and providing your name, be sure to provide the necessary information only. Do not go into details about the situation. Often, we are not thinking clearly after a traumatic event. This may lead you to saying something that could later be used against you in a legal battle. Remember, 911 calls are recorded and can be used against you. Avoid using the words killed, shot, or similar.
Keep the information you provide factual. Besides your name provide your location and any services needed (police, ambulance, fire, etc.). Provide any logistical information needed. Are you in a gated community? If so, how does emergency help get to your location. Are you at a park or the lake? Provide details about where you are such as the shelter house number or any landmarks.
Get Off the Phone Quickly
911 operators are trained to keep people on the phone and to try and gather as much information as possible. While this is certainly understandable, it can also be a detriment in a self-defense scenario. People under duress tend to jabber on without a lot of thought. Our fight or flight reflexes are in high gear and we need that energy to go somewhere. Unfortunately, it sometimes goes out our mouth and gets us in trouble.
As soon as you provide all of the information necessary to get emergency services dispatched hang up the phone. Say you are hanging up now and do it. The operator will try to persuade you to stay on the line but don’t do it. They will likely call you back trying to get you back on the line. Don’t answer the call. This will protect you from inadvertently saying something damaging.
Under any circumstances, do not waive any of your rights until you have contacted legal representation. As soon as you hang up with 911 place a call to your attorney. Be aware that there is a good chance you will be taken into custody if you had to use deadly force. The cost of protecting yourself can get high so do everything you can to mitigate things from the start.