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New York Reckless Endangerment of Property

Reckless endangerment is a criminal offense that seeks to punish those whose actions show disregard for others. 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). However, it is also a crime to behave in a reckless manner such that you put another person's property at risk. This crime is called reckless endangerment of property. For example, if you take a car without the owner's permission and then drive it at high speeds or in some other reckless manner, one of the charges that you are likely to face is reckless endangerment of property. While this offense is a misdemeanor carrying a possible sentence of up to 3 months in prison, it is still a crime with other potential consequences such as being required to pay a hefty fine and having a criminal record. If you have been charged with reckless endangerment of property it is important to immediately contact an experienced New York Reckless Endangerment of Property Lawyer who will review the facts of your case and aggressively defend you throughout the criminal process.

Reckless endangerment of property

You will face a charge of reckless endangerment of property if you engage in conduct that creates a substantial risk of damage to another person's property in an amount more than $250. It is a Class B misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 145.25.

A common basis for a reckless endangerment of property charge involves car theft. For example, in People v. Swart, 709 N.Y.S.2d 653 (2000), defendant Wayne Swart stole a truck. When the owner's son spotted Swart driving the truck, Swart took off at a high speed. Eventually Swart drove off the rode into a hay field and jumped out of the truck while it was still moving. The truck ultimately crashed.

Setting another person's property on fire may also lead to a charge of reckless endangerment of property. For example, in People v. Skinner, 556 N.Y.S.2d 172 (1990), after being suspended from his job the defendant set his boss' car on fire. Similarly in People v. Hameed, 558 N.Y.S.2d 330 (1990) the defendant set his landlord's residence on fire after having argued with him earlier in the day.

Consequences of a Reckless Endangerment of Property Conviction

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


Because reckless endangerment in the second degree is a Class B misdemeanor if you are convicted you could be sent to county jail for up to 3 months. In the case of People v. Swart, Swart was indeed sentenced to the maximum jail sentence of 3 months. It is also possible for the judge to sentence you to probation instead of jail or in addition to jail. However, as in many reckless endangerment cases, the defendant in People v. Swart faced several other charges in addition to reckless endangerment of property. He was also charged with criminal possession of stolen property and criminal mischief, resulting in his overall sentence being several years in prison.


The term of probation would be 3 years for reckless endangerment of property. If you are sentenced to both probation and jail, you will serve your probation sentence concurrently with your jail sentence. This means that while you are in jail you will also be on probation. Because the maximum amount of time you will be in jail for a Class B misdemeanor is 90 days, once you are released from jail you will have to complete your probation term. For example, if you are sentenced to 30 days in jail and 3 years of probation for reckless endangerment of property 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 to help ensure that you will stay out of trouble. If you break any of the rules known as Conditions of Probation, you would be in violation of your probation. If you are found to be in violation, a judge could revoke your probation and resentence you to jail.

  • 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
  • You must pay any ordered fees, fines and restitutio
Community Service

You may be required to perform community service as part of your sentence. For a Class B misdemeanor the maximum amount of community service hours that you would be required to perform is 100.

Fines, Fees and Restitution

As part of your sentence the judge may order you to pay a fine and restitution. For reckless endangerment of property 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. However, the judge is permitted to order you to pay more than $10,000 if the situation warrants it. For example, in the case of People v. Hodges, 888 N.Y.S.2d 224 (2009), the court ordered the defendant to pay restitution in the amount of $705,000. In this case the defendant was convicted of reckless endangerment in the first degree based on setting fire to a building that housed a store and an apartment. The fire consumed the building as well as 2 vehicles. While in this case the defendant was convicted of reckless endangerment in the first degree and not reckless endangerment of property, People v. Hodges shows how the court will use its discretion to order a defendant to pay a significant amount of restitution if the facts of a case warrants it.

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.

Failure to pay a fine, fee, or restitution could result in additional criminal charges, or wage garnishment.

Long-Term Consequences

Particularly if you have no prior criminal record, there is a good chance that your sentence will not involve any jail. If you are sentenced to jail it will for a maximum of 90 days. However, you should take note that there are consequences to even a misdemeanor conviction that are more significant than spending a few nights in jail. You will have a criminal record. A criminal record will make it challenging to find a job. If a position requires licensing by the federal or state government, you will probably be barred from that type of position. For example, New York state or the federal government issue licenses for teachers, attorneys, doctors, taxi drivers, and security guards. In addition, with a criminal record you may not be eligible for certain government benefits such as federally funded housing.

While reckless endangerment of property is a misdemeanor and not a felony, the consequences of a conviction are serious. While you may not go to jail, you may have to pay a significant fine as well as restitution. In addition, you will have a criminal record for the rest of your life. Because of the consequences of being convicted of reckless endangerment of property 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 or property as well as other crimes such as reckless endangerment in the first and second degrees, criminal mischief, 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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