Suffolk County Domestic Violence and Reckless Endangerment

N.Y. Pen. Law §§ 120.20 & 120.25

Under the New York criminal statute reckless endangerment is acting 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. Like several other types of criminal offenses such as assault, stalking and harassment, reckless endangerment can occur as part of a domestic violence incident. Domestic violence is a type of crime where the defendant and the victim are in some type of domestic relationship. 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. 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. 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 Suffolk County Domestic Violence and Reckless Endangerment Lawyer who understand that legal issues involved with domestic violence and reckless endangerment and who will aggressively defend you against the charges.

Reckless endangerment charges

Reckless endangerment is a criminal offense that involves putting another person at risk of injury. Reckless endangerment is also an act of domestic violence if it involves people that are married, dating, who cohabitate or who share children. 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. 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. In the case of People v. Brown, 711 N.Y.S.2d 707 (2000) the defendant who once dated the victim was charged with reckless endangerment after he purposely smashed the vehicle he was driving into a pole. The victim was also in the car at the time.

Reckless endangerment in the first degree. Reckless endangerment in the first degree is similar to reckless endangerment in the second degree except that for the first degree charge the prosecutor must show that your actions not only presented a substantial risk of serious injury but also that your actions show 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

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.

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.

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. While probation is preferable then incarceration, probation has many restrictions. If you violate any of the terms of your probation you will have to appear before a judge at a revocation hearing. If after hearing evidence the judge concludes that you are in violation the judge could send you to prison. Whether or not the judge sends you to prison will largely depend on whether the violation was major or minor.

Orders of Protection

If a criminal case involves domestic violence, the court will almost always issue a "stay away" Order of Protection or a "refrain from" Order of Protection in favor of the victim. If an Order of Protection is a stay away order, then you must not have any type of contact with that person. This means that you must not have any physical contact, you must stay away from the person's home, school or place of business, you must not call the person, you must not email or fax that person, you must not send that person letters, you must not send the person messages through other people, and you must not send the person gifts or flowers. If there is a refrain from Order of Protection, then you are prohibited from harassing, intimidating, threatening or otherwise interfering with that person.

If you violate an Order of Protection you risk being charged with criminal contempt, a misdemeanor. As punishment you could be sentenced to jail or probation.

Additional criminal charges

Beware that if you are arrested for reckless endangerment you may face additional criminal charges. For example, depending on the facts of your case, you may also be charged with assault, criminal possession of a weapon, or child endangerment. If you violate an Order of Protection while the reckless endangerment charges are pending you will be charged with criminal contempt. Any additional charge could result in convictions for additional crimes. This would greatly impact your sentence.

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.

While reckless endangerment is not one of the more serious domestic violence-related 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 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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