NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED FEDERAL LAWYERS
Last Updated on: 20th August 2023, 02:32 am
NY Penal Law § 120.25: Reckless endangerment in the first degree
If you behave in a manner that shows that you have no regard for human life, you could face a felony reckless endangerment in the first degree charge. It does not matter if no one was actually injured. In order to be charged and convicted of reckless endangerment, the prosecutor needs only to bring evidence to demonstrate that your actions place other people at risk. Reckless endangerment in the first degree is one of two reckless endangerment offenses in the New York criminal code. It is the more serious of the two charges, compared to reckless endangerment in the second degree, which is a misdemeanor offense. You could be prosecuted under New York Penal Code § 120.25 if you recklessly engage in actions that creates a grave risk of death to another person under circumstances which evince a depraved indifference to human life. Over time, New York courts have interpreted the phrase “depraved indifference to human life” to mean “an utter disregard for the value of human life— a willingness to act not because one intends harm, but because one simply doesn’t care whether grievous harm results or not.”
In People v. McGee, 930 N.Y.S.2d 117 (2011), the defendant, Mr. Demetrius McGee and his co-defendant drove around a residential neighborhood in search of a particular person with the intention of shooting that person. In the course of attempting to shoot this person, the shots they fired landed at several residences. At the time, there were several children at play in front of these homes. As a result, Mr. McGee was convicted of the crime of reckless endangerment in the first degree.
Reckless endangerment in the second degree: NY Penal Law § 120.20
Assault in the second degree: New York Penal Code § 120.05
Stalking in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 120.60
In order for a prosecuting attorney to successfully prosecute you on a charge of reckless endangerment in the first degree, the prosecutor must demonstrate that your behaviour did, in actuality, put others in danger. If it simply appeared to the police and others that your actions put people in danger, but a closer examination of the facts reveals that your actions really could not have hurt anyone, then you may have a sound defense. The name for this kind of defense is “factual impossibility”.
Reckless endangerment in the first degree is categorized as a class D felony. The maximum possible sentence you could face for this crime is 7 years in prison. The final determination on the length of your prison sentence will depend on factors such as your prior criminal record, whether you take responsibility for your actions, and the facts surrounding your case. If you have no prior felony convictions, then the judge has a choice to send you to jail or to just sentence you to probation. If, on the other hand, you do have one or more prior felony convictions, the judge will sentence you to serve time in prison.
NY Penal Law § 120.20: Reckless endangerment in the second degree
Behaving in a reckless manner that puts other people’s lives at risk is illegal according to the New York Criminal Code. If you exhibit this behavior, you may face a charge of reckless endangerment. Acting “recklessly” is defined according to New York Penal Code § 15.05(3) as being aware of a risk that an action may cause another individual a serious injury and consciously ignoring that risk. Driving at high speeds through a residential area, for example, is a reckless act. Throwing a bottle out of the window of a high-rise apartment building is also a reckless act. Whether or not your intent is to harm another person is not relevant for this charge to be valid. The court will simply take your actions and the actual or potential results into consideration. Two degrees of severity of reckless endangerment crimes appear in the criminal code. The less serious of the two offenses is reckless endangerment in the second degree.
You will face a charge of reckless endangerment in the second degree under New York Penal Code § 120.20 if you recklessly engage in conduct which poses a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another individual. The law defines a “serious physical injury” in the criminal code as a physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death, that causes death, that causes a serious disfigurement, that causes a protracted impairment of health, or that causes the loss or impairment of a the function of any bodily organ.
In People v. Williams, 886 N.Y.S.2d 72 (2009), defendant Michael Williams, a bus driver, was was charged with reckless endangerment in the second degree. After speaking belligerently to the victim as she stood on the steps of the bus entryway, Williams suddenly closed the door on the leg of the victim and began to drive the bus. After driving several feet, the victim was able to free her leg from the bus door. The victim did not suffer any injuries. Nonetheless, the court arrived at the conclusion that Williams’ actions presented a substantial risk of serious physical injury to the victim.
Offenses that are Related
Reckless endangerment in the first degree: NY Penal Law § 120.25
Menacing in the second degree: New York Penal Code § 120.14
Assault in the third degree: New York Penal Code § 120.00
In the past, courts have found “factual impossibility” to be a valid defense against a charge of reckless endangerment in the second degree. You may have a plausible defense if you can demonstrate that your action, while it may have appeared to have put others at risk, in reality did not. For instance, if a gun is pointed at a crowd of people and the person wielding the gun pulls the trigger, but the gun was not loaded or was somehow otherwise rendered inoperable, then there was never a substantial risk of death. In a case like this, the charge would not stand.
Since reckless endangerment in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor, if you are convicted, you could spend up to a year in jail. It is also possible that the judge may additionally sentence you to a probation term of 3 years. On top of that, the judge may order you to pay a fine of up to $1,000.