Nassau County Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree

N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.25

If you act in a way that shows that you have no regard for human life, you could face a felony reckless endangerment in the first degree charge. For example, shooting a semi-automatic gun in an area where there are bystanders in the line of fire would likely result in the prosecutor charging you with reckless endangerment in the first degree. It does not matter if no one was injured. In order to be convicted of reckless endangerment the prosecutor needs only to show evidence that your actions put others at risk. Reckless endangerment in the first degree is one of two reckless endangerment offenses. It is the more serious charge, compared to reckless endangerment in the second degree which is a misdemeanor. If you are convicted of felony reckless endangerment you will end up in prison and you will also be required to pay a fine and restitution. If you have been charged with felony reckless endangerment it is important to immediately contact an experienced Nassau County Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree Lawyer who will explain to you your legal options and aggressively defend you throughout the criminal process.

Reckless endangerment in the first degree

Reckless endangerment in the first degree is one of two reckless endangerment offenses related to putting another person at risk of being harmed. Of the two reckless endangerment offenses, reckless endangerment in the first degree is the more serious charge. It is a Class D felony.

You will face this charge if you recklessly engage in conduct that creates a grave risk of death to another person under circumstances which evince a depraved indifference to human life. It is a Class D felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.25. 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."

For example, in People v. Ceni, 986 N.Y.S.2d 866 (2014) the defendant poured liquid under an apartment door and attempted to ignite it. There were several people inside the apartment at the time. Ceni pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment in the first degree.

The use of a gun is often the basis for a reckless endangerment in the first degree charge. In People v. Heesh, 941 N.Y.S.2d 767 (2012), defendant Russell Heesh fired a gun through the window of his ex-girlfriend's bedroom window. At the time his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend were sleeping inside the bedroom. In People v. McGee, 930 N.Y.S.2d 117 (2011) defendant Demetrius McGhee and his co-defendant drove around a residential neighborhood intending to shoot a particular person. In the course of trying to shoot this person they shot at several residences. At the time there were several children playing in front of these homes. As a result McGhee was convicted of reckless endangerment in the first degree. To be convicted of reckless endangerment in the first degree it is not enough, however, for you to have shot a gun. You must have shot a gun with people in close proximity to the line of fire. Otherwise you would not have put anyone at risk of serious physical injury or shown a depraved indifference for human life. For example, in People v. Stanley, 970 N.Y.S.2d 136 (2013), defendant Marquis Stanley stood on a street corner and shot his gun 5 times. However, there was no evidence that anyone was in or near the line of fire. As a result, the court reversed the reckless endangerment in the first degree conviction.

In another case, the defendant faced a reckless endangerment charge after he shot one person who was standing near another person. In People v. Flanders, 974 N.Y.S.2d 692 (2013) defendant Pernell Flanders shot the victim multiple times with a semi-automatic pistol. The victim was standing near his fiancé at the time of the shooting. Because there was a bystander, the fiancé, standing in close proximity to the shooting victim Flanders was charged with reckless endangerment in the first agree. He also faced several other charges with respect to the incident including attempted murder in the second degree (N.Y. Pen. Law §§ 110.00, 125.25(1)), and assault in the first degree (N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.10(1)). Similar reasoning resulted in the reversal of a reckless endangerment in the first degree conviction. In People v. Scott, 894 N.Y.S.2d 532 (2010), defendant Leroy Scott chased the victim and shot at him in an effort to rob him. At trial Scott was convicted of reckless endangerment in the first degree as well as attempted murder in the second degree, robbery in the first degree, robbery in the second degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, and criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree. On appeal the court reversed the reckless endangerment in the first degree conviction. The court reasoned that there was no evidence that anyone other than the intended victim's life was in danger by the defendant's actions.

Consequences of a Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree Conviction

If you are convicted of reckless endangerment in the first degree your punishment may include jail, probation, community service, a fine and restitution.

Incarceration

Reckless endangerment in the first degree is a Class D felony. The maximum possible sentence is 7 years in prison. N.Y. Pen. Law § 70.02. The actual 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 within the prior 10 years, then the judge has the option to sentence you to no time in prison and instead to sentence you to probation. If you have a non-violent felony conviction within the prior 10 years you will be classified as a non-violent predicate offender. For a reckless endangerment in the first degree conviction the judge will be required to sentence you to a minimum of 2-4 years in prison. N.Y. Pen. Law § 70.06. If you are a violent predicate offender, meaning that you have a violent felony conviction within the prior 10 years, the minimum prison sentence you will face is also 2-4 years. N.Y. Pen. Law § 70.04. If you have been convicted of at least 2 prior felony offenses, then you will be classified as a persistent felony offender. N.Y. Pen. Law § 70.10. If this is the case then the judge will ignore the normal minimum and maximum sentencing rules for a Class D felony. The minimum sentence that you will face is 15-25 years in prison and the maximum is life in prison.

Probation

The term of probation would be 5 years for reckless endangerment in the first degree. Your probation term will run concurrently with your prison term. While serving your probation sentence you will be subject to many rules. The purpose of the rules is to help ensure that you will not commit another crime. If you break any of the rules you would be in violation of your probation. A judge could revoke your probation and resentence you to prison.

  • You must not commit a crime. Even a minor infraction could result in a probation violation.
  • You must not associate with other people who you know have criminal records
  • You must not patronize unlawful or disreputable places
  • You must not possess controlled substances or drug paraphernalia
  • You must consent to warrantless searches without probable cause
  • You must submit to home visits by your Probation Officer
  • You must regularly report to your Probation Officer
  • You cannot leave the State of New York without permission
  • You must get permission to move out of state. The Department of Probation has the authority to determine if it will allow you to move out of state and transfer your probation to another jurisdiction.
  • You must not own, possess or purchase a gun
  • You must refrain from the excessive use of alcohol
  • You must complete any ordered substance abuse treatment or medical treatment
  • You must stick to a curfew
  • You must have job or be enrolled in school
  • You must pay any fines, fees and restitution you were ordered to pay
Fines, Fees and Restitution

As part of your sentence the judge may order you to pay a fine and restitution. For reckless endangerment in the second degree the fine would be up to $1,000. Restitution is paid to the victim to cover out-of-pocket expenses that result from a crime. Generally, the maximum amount of restitution is $15,000, plus a 5% surcharge. N.Y. Pen. Law § 60.27. However, the court has the discretion to order that you pay a higher amount, provided that the excess amount is limited to returning the victim's property or paying for the victim's medical expenses. N.Y. Pen. Law § 60.27(5)(b). For example, in the case of People v. Hodges, 888 N.Y.S.2d 224 (2009), the court ordered the defendant to pay restitution in the amount of $705,000. In this case the defendant was convicted of reckless endangerment in the first degree based on setting a fire to a building that housed a store and an apartment. The fire consumed the building as well as 2 vehicles.

You will be required to pay fees. One $300 fee is referred to as a "mandatory surcharge." You may also be required to pay a victim assistance fee of $25. N.Y. Pen. Law § 60.35. If you are placed on probation, you will have pay probation supervision fees of $30 per month.

You will not have completed your sentence until you have paid the fine and restitution that the court has ordered as part of your sentence. Furthermore, if you fail to pay a fine, fee or restitution you may be charged with a misdemeanor and sent to jail and your wages may be garnished. The law does allow you to petition the court for a reduction in the amount of fines and restitution you are required to pay, or to issue a modified payment schedule.

Additional Criminal Charges

If you are convicted of reckless endangerment in the first degree, based on the facts of your case there is a good chance that you face additional criminal charges. For example, if your conviction is based on discharging a gun, you may be charged with attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon. In the case of People v. Hodges, in addition to reckless endangerment in the first degree the defendant was also convicted of arson in the second degree and criminal mischief in the second degree.

If you are convicted of any criminal charge in addition to reckless endangerment if the first degree, your sentence will reflect that and will be more severe.

Long-Term Consequences

If you are convicted of reckless endangerment in the first degree in addition to the sentence that the judge hands you, you will end up with a criminal record which will negatively impact several aspects of your life. For example, with a simple background check a potential employer or a college admissions officer will quickly learn about your criminal history. As a result, you may lose many opportunities.

The consequences of being convicted of reckless endangerment in the first degree are very serious. You may end up in prison for several years, resulting in a loss of time with your family and friends. Even after you complete your prison sentence you may be faced with having to pay a hefty fine or restitution. Your criminal record will include a felony conviction. Because of the consequences of being convicted of reckless endangerment in the first degree it is important to have experienced representation. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with reckless endangerment as well as other crimes such as assault, harassment, menacing, stalking, and child endangerment. Contact us at 1.800.NY.NY.LAW (1.800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of robbery in the following locations:

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