Queens Domestic Violence and Reckless Endangerment

N.Y. Pen. Law §§ 120.20 & 120.25

Reckless endangerment is the crime of putting another person at risk of being injured. Like several other types of criminal offenses, reckless endangerment can occur as part of a domestic violence incident. In New York domestic violence is not the name of a specific crime. It is a general term applied to crimes committed by someone who has or had an intimate relationship with the victim. Examples of intimate relationships include married couples, dating couples, or couples who share children. When a couple that is in a domestic relationship has an argument, the actions of one or both of the people involved can escalate to criminal acts. For example, throwing an object at the other person or lunging at the other person with a knife can amount to the crime of reckless endangerment. While reckless endangerment does not necessarily involve the victim suffering a serious injury, it is still a crime. If you are convicted there is a good possibility that you will end up in prison and face other life-altering consequences. Thus, if you have been charged with reckless endangerment based stemming from a domestic violence incident it is important that you immediately contact an experienced Queens Domestic Violence and Reckless Endangerment Lawyer who understands the law related to domestic violence crimes and who will work closely with you to defend you against all criminal charges.

Reckless endangerment charges

In New York there are two degrees of reckless endangerment: reckless endangerment in the second degree and reckless endangerment in the first degree. Reckless endangerment in the second degree is the charge you will face if you act in a manner that creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person. The criminal statute defines "serious physical injury" as an injury that presents a substantial risk of death or permanent disfigurement. It is a Class A misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.20. This charge does not require that anyone actually sustain a physical injury.

Reckless endangerment in the first degree. To convict you of reckless endangerment the prosecutor must show that your actions not only presented a substantial risk of serious injury but also that they showed that you have a depraved indifference to human life and created a grave risk of death to another person. Another significant difference is that first degree reckless endangerment is a Class D felony, while second degree is a misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.25

Consequences of a Reckless Endangerment Conviction

Prison. Because reckless endangerment in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor, if you are convicted the maximum sentence that you will face is up to 1 year in jail. However, depending on the specific facts of your case and your background, it is possible that instead of sentencing you to jail the judge may sentence you to a probation term of 3 years.

On the other hand, if you are convicted of reckless endangerment in the first degree, the maximum possible sentence is 7 years in prison. Your actual sentence will be based largely on your criminal record. For example, if you have a criminal record that includes at least 1 prior felony conviction within the past 10 years, you will receive a harsher sentence than if you had no prior convictions.

  • Prior convictions: A prior conviction means that you have been convicted of a felony within the last 10 years. If you have a prior conviction, the minimum sentence for a reckless endangerment in the first degree conviction is 2 years in prison.
  • Non-Violent Predicate: You will be classified as a non-violent felony predicate offender if within the last 10 years you were convicted of a non-violent felony. Examples of non-violent felonies include robbery in the first degree and grand larceny in the second degree.
  • Violent Predicate: You will be classified as a violent felony predicate offender if within the last 10 years you were convicted of a violent felony. Examples of violent felonies include most assault offenses.
  • Persistent Felony Offender: At least 2 prior felony convictions.

For example, in the case of People v. De Fayette, 810 N.Y.S.2d 260 (2006), because the defendant was a second felony offender he was sentenced to 3½ to 7 years in prison for a reckless endangerment in the first degree conviction.

In addition to being sent to prison, being convicted of assault with a gun has hefty financial consequences in the form of fines, fees, and restitution.

  • Class A misdemeanor. The maximum possible sentence is 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Class D felony. The maximum possible sentence is 7 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
    • No prior convictions: Minimum 2 years in prison
    • Non-violent predicate: Minimum 3 years in prison
    • Violent predicate: Minimum 5 years in prison
    • Persistent felony offender: Minimum 12-15 years in prison; maximum life

In addition to having to pay a fine you will be required to pay certain fees including a "mandatory surcharge" of $175-$300 as well as a victim assistance fee of $25. N.Y. Pen. Law § 60.35. If your sentence includes probation or post-release supervision you will be required to pay a monthly supervision fee of $30.

Another financial consequence of a reckless endangerment conviction is that you may be ordered to pay restitution to the victim. The amount of restitution will be based on the losses suffered by the victim based on your actions. For example, if you damaged property you may be ordered to reimburse the victim for the value of the property. Generally, the maximum amount of restitution is $10,000 for a misdemeanor and $15,000 for a felony. Furthermore, you will also have to pay a fee to the company charged with collecting the restitution from you.

Failure to pay a fine, fee or restitution may result in you being charged with yet another crime that could mean a year in prison. However, the court may lower the amount of restitution or modify payment terms if you show the court an inability to pay.

Probation . If you are convicted of reckless endangerment part of your sentence may include probation of 3 years for reckless endangerment in the second degree or 5 years for reckless endangerment in the first degree. As a type of community supervision probation comes with a number of rules and restriction that you will be required to follow or risk being sent to prison. N.Y. Pen. Law § 65.10. The rules are that you must:

  • Avoid injurious or vicious habits
  • Refrain from frequenting unlawful or disreputable places
  • Refrain from consorting with disreputable persons
  • Have a job or be enrolled in school
  • Undergoing available medical or psychiatric treatment and remaining in a specified institution, when required for that purpose
  • Complete an alcohol or substance abuse program, if ordered by the court
  • Support your family
  • Pay restitution
  • Perform community service
  • Post bond or other security for the performance of any or all conditions imposed;
  • Install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle that you use
  • Refrain from consuming alcohol
  • Regularly report to your Probation Officer
  • Obtain permission before traveling or moving outside of New York
  • Notify your Probation Officer if you move or change employment
  • Submit to electronic monitoring

N.Y. Pen. Law § 65.10

If you violate any of the terms of your probation, your Probation Officer may file a Violation of Probation with the court. You will then be required to appear before the judge who originally sentenced you to probation. That judge will listen to evidence and determine if you did indeed violate the terms of your probation. If the violation is minor such as failing to report to your Probation Officer of report a new address, then the judge may choose not to violate you. On the other hand if the violation is significant such as you committing another crime, the judge could revoke your probation and resentence you to jail.

Long-Term Consequences. Even if you are convicted of only a misdemeanor reckless endangerment charge and receive a sentence that includes little or no jail time, there will be additional consequences. You will have a criminal record that will make several aspects of your life more challenging such as getting a job. Nowadays most employers will perform a criminal background check on every applicant. If an employer discovers that you have a criminal history, there is a good possibility that you will not be hired. In addition, if you have aspirations of being a teacher or a lawyer, you may need to reconsider as it will be difficult to get a license to practice either of these professions with a criminal background.

Furthermore, parenting your children may become more complicated. You may lose custody or your visitation may be restricted. Some colleges may refuse to admit you or refuse to allow you to live in campus housing. Your eligibility to receive certain government benefits such as welfare or federally funded housing may be compromised. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may be subject to deportation.

Being arrested for domestic violence based on reckless endangerment is very serious. Even if no one was suffered an injury, you could still be convicted and face prison. While the prison time may be short, the fact that you have a criminal record will have many consequences that will make several aspects of your life more challenging. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with assault with reckless endangerment, domestic violence, assault, stalking, strangulation, menacing, 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 domestic violence in the following locations:

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