New York Reckless Endangerment Sentencing

Reckless endangerment is a criminal offense that makes it illegal to act in a way that puts others in danger or the property of others in danger. If you do so you will face a reckless endangerment charge even if you do not actually harm another person or damage property. It is enough that your actions were so reckless that you risked causing someone a serious physical injury or damaging property. There are three different reckless endangerment charges. One is a felony and the other two are misdemeanors. The sentence that you will receive if you are convicted of reckless endangerment depends on several factors. While you may not necessarily end up in jail or prison, you will likely be required to pay fees, fines and restitution, and you will end up with a criminal record. However, there are defenses to a reckless endangerment charge and other defense strategies that may result in the charges being dropped or reduced, or that may result in your sentence being relatively less severe. In order to ensure that you are represented by someone with experience, if you have been charged with reckless endangerment it is important to immediately contact a New York Reckless Endangerment Sentencing Lawyer who will understand the strategies required to ensure that your case is handled with expertise from the beginning until it is resolved.

Types of reckless endangerment

Under New York Penal Law there are there three reckless endangerment offenses: reckless endangerment in the second degree, reckless endangerment in the first degree, and reckless endangerment of property. Reckless endangerment in the second degree and reckless endangerment of property are misdemeanors while reckless endangerment in the first degree is a felony.

Reckless endangerment in the second degree. You will face this charge if you recklessly engage in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person. It is a Class A misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.20. A "serious physical injury" is defined 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. For example, in People v. O'Connor, 953 N.Y.S.2d 552 (2012), the defendant pulled the hair of the victim while she was driving. As a result the victim lost temporarily lost control of her vehicle. Based on this, the defendant was convicted of reckless endangerment in the second degree.

A frequent scenario that results in a charge of reckless endangerment is where someone shoots a gun in a public place, putting bystanders at risk of being injured or killed. In People v. Harvey 963 N.Y.S.2d 900 (2013), the defendant Jeuane Harvey was convicted of reckless endangerment in the second degree based firing a weapon near an area where children were play and pedestrians were walking. Similarly, in People v. Bianca, 936 N.Y.S.2d 743 (2012), defendant Michael Bianca was convicted of reckless endangerment in the second degree based on driving by a tavern several times and firing a gun at the tavern each time. There were several people standing outstand of the tavern at the time.

Another situation in which you could face a charge of reckless endangerment in the second degree if you throw an object out of a window or over a balcony. That is exactly what the defendant did in People v. Green, 958 N.Y.S.2d 138 (2013). David Green threw bottles and plates from a 26th floor balcony for no other reason than to amuse his friends. He was convicted of reckless endangerment in the second degree.

Reckless endangerment in the first degree. 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. Cena, 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. Cena pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment in the first degree. 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. That 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 a several residences. At the time there were several children playing in front of the houses. As a result, McGhee was convicted of reckless endangerment in the first degree.

Reckless Endangerment of Property. Reckless endangerment of property involves not putting another person in danger of injury, but putting another person's property in danger. You will face this charge if you through your reckless conduct you create a substantial risk of more than $250 worth damage to another person's property. It is a Class B misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 145.25.

Sentencing for a Reckless Endangerment Conviction

If you are convicted of a reckless endangerment offense your sentence may include one or more of the following punishments: prison, post-release supervision, probation, fine, restitution, and community service. Your sentence will depend on the reckless endangerment crime of which you are convicted, your criminal background, and any aggravating or mitigating factors related to the crime.

Sentence for reckless endangerment of property. Reckless endangerment of property is a Class B misdemeanor.

  • Prison: Up to 90 days in the county jail.
  • Fine: Up to $1,000
  • Probation: 3 years

Sentence for reckless endangerment in the second degree. Reckless endangerment in the property is a Class A misdemeanor.

  • Prison: Up to 1 year in the county jail.
  • Fine: Up to $1,000
  • Probation: 3 years

Sentence for reckless endangerment in the first degree. Reckless endangerment in the property is a Class D felony.

  • Prison: Up to 7 years in state prison.
  • Fine: Up to $5,000
  • Probation: 5 years
  • Post-release supervision: 1.5-3 years

Aggravating factors include information about your case and your background that may lead the judge to give you a stiffer sentence, while mitigating factors may lead the judge to give you a lighter sentence. For example, if your criminal history would be an aggravating factor. If you fail to take responsibility for the crime or fail to show remorse, the judge will consider that as an aggravating factor. On the other hand the judge will look favorably up you showing remorse or reimbursing the victim for any losses suffered.

Probation

If part of your sentence includes probation, it will be 3 years for a misdemeanor conviction or 5 years for a felony conviction. If your sentence includes both prison and probation, you will serve the terms concurrently. This means that if your sentence for a conviction of misdemeanor reckless endangerment is 30 days in jail, plus 3 year probation, you will serve 30 days of your probation term while you are in jail. Once you are released from jail you will have to serve the balance of your probation, which would be 3 years minus 30 days.

While serving your probation sentence you will be subject to many rules. If you break any of the rules a judge could revoke your probation and resentence you to prison. The rules will include that you cannot commit another crime, you must have a job, you must not associate with disreputable people, you must not patronize disreputable places, you must not drink alcohol excessively, you must not use illegal drugs, and you must support your family. In addition, you will be required to report to your probation officer on the regular basis.

Post-Release Supervision

If convicted of felony reckless endangerment part of your sentence will likely include a term of post-release supervision of up to 3 years. Like probation, while you serve your term of post-release supervision there will be several rules that you must follow. If you violate any of the terms of your post-release supervision you will receive a revocation hearing before a judge. Based on the evidence presented, the judge may allow you to continue with the post-release supervision with the terms undisturbed, require you to go back to jail for a period and then return to post-release supervision status, or require you to return to prison to complete your original sentence plus additional time for violating your post-release supervision.

Fees and Restitution

In addition being ordered to pay a fine, you will also have to pay fees and restitution. The amount of restitution will depend on the losses suffered by the victim as a result of your crime. Generally, the maximum amount of restitution is $15,000 for a felony and $10,000 for a misdemeanor.

You will also be required to pay fees. One fee is referred to as a "mandatory surcharge." It is $300 for felonies and $175 for misdemeanors. 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.

Plea Agreement

As part of the criminal process the prosecutor may offer you the option of pleading guilty in exchange for a reduced charge or a lighter sentence than you would receive if you are found guilty after a trial. This commonly referred to as a plea bargain. However, if you do plead guilty to a lesser charge that will still mean that you will have been convicted of a crime and there will be consequences such as fees, fines, restitution, incarceration and a criminal record. The advantage of agreeing to a plea bargain is that you will not risk being found guilty of the original, more serious charges after a trial and then face a stiffer sentence.

Long-Term Consequences

Even after you serve your prison term, post-release supervision term, probation term and pay your fees, fines and restitution, there will be additional long-term consequences to being convicted of reckless endangerment.

  • Criminal record
  • Difficulty finding a job as most employers perform criminal background checks
  • Refused admission into some colleges
  • Barred from certain careers and professional licensing such as teaching, practicing law, driving a taxi, working as a security guard, and operating a child day care business
  • Barred from owning a gun
  • Barred from serving on a jury
  • Ineligible for certain government benefits such as welfare or federally funded housing
  • Deportation, if you are not U.S. citizen- even if you are in the U.S. legally
  • Temporarily barred from voting

While reckless endangerment is not one of the more serious crimes defined in New York Penal Law, the consequences of a conviction are serious. If you are convicted there is a chance that you will end up incarcerated. You may be ordered to pay significant fines and restitution. You will have a criminal record that may limit professional opportunities. Because of the consequences of being convicted of any reckless endangerment charge it is important to have experienced representation who will understand strategies that may lead to the charges being dropped or reduced, or that may lead to your sentence being minimal. 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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