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New York Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree

It is illegal to act in a reckless manner that puts other people's lives at risk. If you do, you may face a charge of reckless endangerment. New York Penal Law defines acting recklessly as being aware of a risk that an action may cause another person a serious injury and consciously ignoring that risk. N.Y. Pen. Law § 15.05(3). For example, driving at high speeds through a residential area is reckless. Throwing a bottle out of the window of a high-rise apartment building is reckless. Whether or not your intent is to harm another person is not relevant. The court will instead consider your actions and the actual or potential results. There are 2 degrees of severity of reckless endangerment crimes. The less serious crime is reckless endangerment in the second degree. It is a misdemeanor. However, if you are convicted of misdemeanor reckless endangerment there will be consequences including the possibility of incarceration, paying a hefty fine, and having a criminal record. If you have been charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment it is important to immediately contact an experienced New York Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree Lawyer who will explain to you your legal options and aggressively defend you throughout the criminal process.

Reckless endangerment in the second degree

Reckless endangerment in the second degree is one of two reckless endangerment offenses related to putting another person at risk of being harmed. Of the two reckless endangerment offenses, reckless endangerment in the second degree is the less serious charge. 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 in the criminal code 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, an injury that requires surgery would be considered a serious physical injury while an injury that leaves only a temporary bruise would not be considered a serious physical injury.

In People v. Williams, 886 N.Y.S.2d 72 (2009), defendant Michael Williams was a bus driver who was charged with reckless endangerment in the second degree. After speaking belligerently to the victim as she stood on the steps of the bus, Williams closed the door on the leg of the victim and started to move the bus. After several feet the victim was able to free herself from the bus. She did not suffer any injuries. However, the court concluded that Williams' actions created a substantial risk of serious physical injury to the victim. The court noted that as a result of Williams' actions the victim could have fallen under the bus and been run over or could have fallen and suffered a serious injury. It is important to note that in this case the victim was not actually injured; she was a risk of suffering a serious physical injury. That is all that is required to face a charge of reckless endangerment in the second degree.

The random use of a gun can lead to a charge of reckless endangerment. For example, if you shoot a gun out of your car window or out of the window of your home in the direction of a populated area, you could face a charge of reckless endangerment. This is the case even if you are not aiming at anyone. Shooting in such a random manner puts bystanders at risk of suffering substantial physical injuries. For example, 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 playing 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 outside of the tavern at the time. No one was injured in either case. However, in each case there was a good possibility that someone could have been seriously injured as there were people in the vicinity of the shooting.

Driving recklessly in order to evade the police is another basis for a reckless endangerment in the second degree charge. In People v. Brinson, 827 N.Y.S.2d 51 (2007) the defendant was convicted of reckless endangerment in the second degree. The defendant led the police on a brief chase, driving at a high speed and trying to force his way through traffic at a low rate of speed.

Another situation in which you could face a charge of reckless endangerment charge is 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.

Abusing a child could lead to a reckless endangerment charge as was the case in People v. Borst, 684 N.Y.S.2d 107 (1998) where the defendant was convicted of reckless endangerment in the second degree after a spanking to a 15-month old child to the point where the child had to be treated in an emergency room.

Consequences of a Reckless Endangerment Conviction

If you are convicted of reckless endangerment your punishment may include jail, probation, community service, a fine and restitution.


Because reckless endangerment in the second degree is a misdemeanor if you are convicted you could be incarcerated for up to 1 year. However, because of the relatively short amount of time that you will be required to be incarcerated, you will spend it in a local county jail and not in a state prison. It is also possible that the judge may not sentence you to any time in jail, but sentence you to probation. Or the judge may sentence you to a combination of jail and probation.


The term of probation would be 3 years for reckless endangerment in the second degree. If you are sentenced to both probation and jail, you will serve your probation sentence concurrently with your jail sentence. As strange as it sounds this means that while you are in jail you are also on probation. Upon release from jail you will serve the remainder of the 3 year probation term. For example, if you are sentenced to 30 days in jail and 3 years of probation for reckless endangerment in the second degree after you leave jail you will still have to serve 3 years minus 30 days of probation.

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 and a judge could revoke your probation and send 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 get permission to move out of state. The Department of Probation has the authority to determine if it will allow you to move out of state and transfer your probation to another jurisdiction.
  • 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 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.

Fines, Fees and Restitution

As part of your sentence the judge may order you to pay a fine and restitution. For reckless endangerment in the second degree the fine would be up to $1,000. Restitution is paid to the victim to cover out-of-pocket expenses that result from a crime. Generally, the maximum amount of restitution is $10,000, plus a 5% surcharge.

You will also be required to pay fees. One $175 fee is referred to as a "mandatory surcharge." 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 the court has ordered as part of your sentence. Furthermore, if you fail to pay a fine, fee or restitution the state will take action to collect it, including charging you with a misdemeanor or garnishing your wages. 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.

Long-Term Consequences

If you are convicted of reckless endangerment in the second degree even though it is a misdemeanor and you may not have to go to jail, you will end up with a criminal record which will negatively impact several aspects of your life. For example, your professional opportunities may be limited. Some employers may be hesitant to hire you after discovering your criminal background after a conducting a pre-employment background check. In addition, you may be ineligible to work in professions that require state or federal licensing such as a teacher, attorney, taxi driver or security guard.

While reckless endangerment in the second degree is a misdemeanor and not a felony, the consequences of a conviction are serious. If you are convicted there is a chance that the judge will send you to jail. Even a few weeks or a few months in jail is a result to avoid. Furthermore, a misdemeanor conviction is a criminal conviction that will result in you having a criminal record. Because of the consequences of being convicted of reckless endangerment in the second degree 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 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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