New York Penal Code § 270.10: Creating a hazard

Over the years there have been several sad stories involving children who have fallen into abandoned wells or who got locked in discarded cabinets or refrigerators. Because such abandoned property presents hazards to public safety, New York has made it illegal to discard certain types of containers without making them safe. It is also illegal to have an abandoned well or cesspool on your property without covering it. Under New York Penal Code § 270.10 you will be charged with creating a hazard if you do either of the following:

  1. Discard in any place where it might attract children, a container which has a compartment of more than one and one-half cubic feet capacity and a door or lid which locks or fastens automatically when closed and which cannot easily be opened from the inside, and you fail to remove the door, lid, locking or fastening device; or

  2. Being the owner or otherwise having possession of property upon which an abandoned well or cesspool is located, you fail to cover the well or cesspool with suitable protective construction.

Examples

Unbeknownst to Jennifer there was an old, abandoned well in a secluded area of her 4-acre property. It was covered by wood. However, over the years the wood had started to rot. 4-year-old Samantha, a neighbor of Jennifer's, fell through the rotted wood cover of the well when she ran onto Jennifer's property chasing her puppy. Fortunately she was able to hold onto a pipe in the well until she was rescued by her father. Samantha was not injured.  Jennifer could be charged with creating a hazard. Even though she was not aware of the well, it was on her property and was her responsibility to make sure it was property covered.

Jaden and Jeffrey, 3-year-old twins, were playing in the backyard of their grandfather's home when they disappeared. Harvey, the twins' grandfather, called the police to help locate the children. An hour later they were found in an old refrigerator that Harvey had placed in the backyard. The children were rushed to the hospital and soon recovered. Harvey could be charged with creating a hazard since he discarded the refrigerator without removing the door in a place where children could access it.

Related Offenses
  1. Endangering the welfare of a child: New York Penal Law § 260.10
  2. Unlawfully possessing or selling noxious material: New York Penal Code § 270.00
Defenses

You would not be guilty of creating a hazard under New York Penal Code § 270.10(1) if you discarded the container in an area that is not easily accessible to children. For example, if you put the refrigerator in a dark, far corner of your basement and you kept the basement door locked, you would not have committed the crime of creating a hazard.

Sentence

Because unlawfully possessing or selling noxious material is a class B misdemeanor if you are convicted you could be sent to jail for up to 3 months and you may be ordered to pay a fine of up to $500. It is also possible that in lieu of jail the court may order you to serve a probation term of 1 year.

New York Penal Code § 270.10: Creating a hazard

A person is guilty of creating a hazard when:

  1. Having discarded in any place where it might attract children, a container which has a compartment of more than one and one-half cubic feet capacity and a door or lid which locks or fastens automatically when closed and which cannot easily be opened from the inside, he fails to remove the door, lid, locking or fastening device; or

  2. Being the owner or otherwise having possession of property upon which an abandoned well or cesspool is located, he fails to cover the same with suitable protective construction.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Because creating a hazard is a misdemeanor and not a felony you may be inclined not to take it the charge seriously. It is still a crime with serious consequences, including being sent to jail. The best way to avoid these consequences is to be represented by someone with experience. 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 felonies and misdemeanors in violation of New York state law and federal law. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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