Queens Reckless Endangerment

N.Y. Pen. Law §§ 120.20, 120.25 & 145.25

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 even if that was not your intent. Actions are considered reckless if those actions were committed without thought of the consequences or outcomes. Your intent is irrelevant. Many reckless endangerment cases have been based on the defendant shooting a gun randomly into a public area. Other cases are based on the defendant driving recklessly while trying to evade the police. While a reckless endangerment charge does not require anyone to suffer an injury, it does require others to be placed in danger of suffering a serious physical injury. Furthermore, you can be charged with reckless endangerment if you put the property of another person in danger of being damaged. If you have been charged with reckless endangerment it is important to immediately contact an experienced Queens Reckless Endangerment Lawyer who will understand the best course of action to aggressively defend you against the charges.

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. 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. 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.

Arrest and Arraignment

Being charged with a crime in New York can be scary and overwhelming. If the police suspect that you have committed reckless endangerment you will be arrested and taken to the local police precinct. At the local precinct your personal information will be taken and you will be fingerprinted. Then you will be taken to Central Booking where you will remain until your arraignment. Within approximately 24 hours of your arrest you will be arraigned. At your arraignment you will learn the exact charges against you. In some cases the charges will be different from what you expected. Based on a review of the evidence, the assistant district attorney assigned to your case may decide to raise or lower the charge, or to add additional charges. At your arraignment you will also learn whether or not bail will be required.

Consequences of a Reckless Endangerment Conviction

If you are convicted of either reckless endangerment offense if your sentence includes incarceration, it will be for only short period of time. Your sentence is likely to also include a fine, restitution, or probation. If you are convicted of felony reckless endangerment, your sentence is likely to include prison as well as a fine, restitution, and possibly probation.

Prison

Whether or not you are sent to prison and the length of time you must spend in prison depends on whether you are convicted of reckless endangerment in the first degree or reckless endangerment in the second degree. Reckless endangerment in the first degree is a Class D felony. As such, the maximum possible sentence is 7 years in prison. On the other hand reckless endangerment in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor with a maximum possible sentence of up to 1 year in jail. Reckless endangerment of property is a Class B misdemeanor with a maximum possible jail sentence of 3 months.

However, the actual length of your sentence will depend on several aggravating or mitigating factors such as our prior criminal history, whether anyone suffered injury and the severity of the injury, and whether or not you show remorse for your actions. For example, in People v. Mitchell, 942 N.Y.S.2d 657 (2012) the defendant was convicted of reckless endangerment in the first degree and was sentences to 3.5-7 years in prison. An aggravating factor in this case that may have contributed to Mitchell's relatively severe sentence is that Mitchell's actions resulted in a child suffering serious physical injuries. Mitchell admitted to hitting his 9-month old daughter multiple times. He also admitted to swinging her by her ankles for over 10-15 minutes. As a result both of the victim's legs were broken. In this case the defendant's actions amounted to depraved indifference as a pediatric neurosurgeon testified that swing a 9 month old child in that manner could cause a brain or spinal cord injury, cause bleeding in the head, and cause death.

Even if you have no prior convictions, then the minimum prison sentence you will receive for a reckless endangerment in the first degree conviction is 2 years. The court will not have the option of sentencing you to no prison time. If your status is that of a non-violent predicate offender then the court will sentence you to at least 3 years for an assault in the second degree conviction, while if you are a violent predicate offender, you will be sentenced to at least 5 years in prison. If you are a persistent felony offender, then the minimum sentence you will receive is 12-25 years in prison; the maximum sentence is life in prison. N.Y. Pen. Law § 70.08

As for a reckless assault in the second degree conviction because it is a misdemeanor, the judge will have the option to not sentence you to jail, but to instead sentence you to a probation term.

Fines, Fees and Restitution

As part of your sentence the judge may order to you pay a fine and restitution. For reckless endangerment in the second degree or reckless endangerment of property the fine would be up to $1,000 since they are misdemeanor offenses, while for reckless endangerment in the first degree the fine would be up to $5,000. Restitution is paid to the victim to cover out-of-pocket expenses that result from a crime. For example, if you shoot a gun at a building the court may order you to pay to have a broken window repaired or bullet holes in the wall repaired. If the victim suffered an injury as a result of your reckless actions the court may order you to pay the victim's medical expenses. 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.

You will not have completed your sentence until you have paid the fine and restitution that 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 prison for up to a year and your wages may be garnished. If you feel that you do not have the financial resources to pay, then you can petition the judge to reduce the fine or restitution.

Probation

All are part of your sentence for a reckless endangerment conviction may be probation. Probation is a special type of sentence imposed by a criminal court judge. If you are placed on probation you will be released into the community without serving a period of incarceration. Or, if your sentence includes both incarceration and probation, the sentence of incarceration shall be a condition of and run concurrently with a sentence of probation.

The term of probation would be 3 years for reckless endangerment in the second degree and 5 years for reckless endangerment in the first degree. For example, in People v. Ceni, the defendant was sentenced to 5 years probation after being convicted of reckless endangerment in the second degree. He was also required to seek psychiatric treatment in a residential facility.

While serving your probation sentence you will be subject to many rules. The purpose of the rules is the help ensure that you will not re-offend. 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 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
Community Service

You may also be required to perform community service as part of your sentence. For a Class A misdemeanor the maximum amount of community service hours that you would be required to perform is 200, while for a Class D felony the maximum is 500 hours.

Long-Term Consequences

If you are convicted of reckless endangerment in the second degree or reckless endangerment in the first degree 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 that you were convicted of reckless endangerment. As a result, you may lose many opportunities.

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 reckless endangerment 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 reckless endangerment in the following locations:

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