New York Penal Code § 120.20: Reckless endangerment in the second degree

It is illegal to act in a reckless manner that puts other people's lives at risk. If you do, you may face a charge of reckless endangerment. New York Penal Code § 15.05(3) defines acting recklessly as being aware of a risk that an action may cause another person a serious injury and consciously ignoring that risk. For example, driving at high speeds through a residential area is reckless. Throwing a bottle out of the window of a high-rise apartment building is reckless. Whether or not your intent is to harm another person is not relevant. The court will instead consider your actions and the actual or potential results.  There are 2 degrees of severity of reckless endangerment crimes. The less serious crime is reckless endangerment in the second degree.

Under New York Penal Code § 120.20 you will face a charge of reckless endangerment in the second degree if you recklessly engage in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person. A "serious physical injury" is defined 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.

Example

In People v. Williams, 886 N.Y.S.2d 72 (2009), defendant Michael Williams was a bus driver who was charged with reckless endangerment in the second degree. After speaking belligerently to the victim as she stood on the steps of the bus, Williams closed the door on the leg of the victim and started to move the bus. After several feet the victim was able to free herself from the bus. She did not suffer any injuries. However, the court concluded that Williams' actions created a substantial risk of serious physical injury to the victim.

Related Offenses
  1. Assault in the third degree: New York Penal Code § 120.00
  2. Menacing in the second degree: New York Penal Code § 120.14
Defenses

Courts have found "factual impossibility" to be a valid defense to a charge of reckless endangerment in the second degree. If you can show that your action, while it may have appeared to have placed others at risk, in reality did not. For example, if a gun is pointed at a crowd of people and the trigger pulled, but the gun was not loaded or was somehow otherwise rendered inoperable, then there was never a substantial risk of death.

Sentence

Because reckless endangerment in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor if convicted you could spend up to a year in jail. It is also possible that the judge may sentence you to a probation term of 3 years. In addition, the judge may require that you pay a fine of up to $1,000.

New York Penal Code § 120.20: Reckless endangerment in the second degree

A person is guilty of reckless endangerment in the second degree when he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.

The Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates can help

While reckless endangerment in the second degree is a misdemeanors and not a felony the consequences of a conviction are serious. If you are convicted there is a chance that the judge will send you to jail. Even a few weeks or a few months in jail is a result to avoid. Furthermore, a misdemeanor conviction is a criminal conviction that will result in you having a criminal record. Because of the consequences of being convicted of reckless endangerment in the second degree it is important to have experienced representation. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with misdemeanors and felonies such as assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree, menacing, reckless endangerment, stalking, rape, 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 larceny in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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