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NY Penal Law § 120.25: Reckless endangerment in the first degree

If you act in a way that shows that you have no regard for human life, you could face a felony reckless endangerment in the first degree charge. It does not matter if no one was injured. In order to be convicted of reckless endangerment the prosecutor needs only to show evidence that your actions put others at risk. Reckless endangerment in the first degree is one of two reckless endangerment offenses. It is the more serious charge, compared to reckless endangerment in the second degree which is a misdemeanor. Under New York Penal Code § 120.25 you could be prosecuted 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. 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."


In People v. McGee, 930 N.Y.S.2d 117 (2011) defendant Demetrius McGee 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 at several residences. At the time there were several children playing in front of these homes. As a result McGee was convicted of reckless endangerment in the first degree.

Related Offenses
  1. Assault in the second degree: New York Penal Code § 120.05
  2. Stalking in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 120.60

In order for the prosecutor to successfully prosecute for you for a charge of reckless endangerment in the first degree, the prosecutor must show that your actions did in fact put others in danger. If it merely appeared that your actions put people in danger but in reality your actions could not have hurt anyone, then you may have a defense that is referred to as factual impossibility.


Reckless endangerment in the first degree is a class D felony. The maximum possible sentence is 7 years in prison. The actual length of your prison sentence will depend on factors such as your prior criminal record, whether you take responsibility for your actions, and the facts surrounding your case. If you have no prior felony convictions then the judge has the option to sentence you to probation. If you do have one or more prior felony convictions, the judge will sentence you to prison.

New York Penal Code § 120.25: Reckless endangerment in the first degree

A person is guilty of reckless endangerment in the first degree when, under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life, he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person.

The Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates can help

The consequences of being convicted of reckless endangerment in the first degree are very serious. You may end up in prison for several years resulting in a loss of time with your family and friends. Even after you complete your prison sentence you may be faced with having to pay a hefty fine or restitution. Your criminal record will include a felony conviction. Because of the consequences of being convicted of reckless endangerment in the first degree it is important to have experienced representation. 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 misdemeanors and felonies such as assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree, menacing, reckless endangerment, stalking, rape, and child endangerment. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of larceny in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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