What is a Reckless Endangerment Charge?

September 1, 2020

When people choose to act in a way that intentionally disregards the safety of others, they can be charged with reckless endangerment. Reckless endangerment is defined as putting another person at considerable risk of injury. The charge of reckless endangerment is usually accompanied by other criminal charges stemming from the same incident, but this charge is unique in a few ways.

What can Lead to a Reckless Endangerment Charge?

Reckless endangerment is very broad. State laws differ in the applications of the charge as well as the criminal penalties involved after conviction.

If the action was deliberate and the inherent danger was clear to the defendant, then the accused could be charged with reckless endangerment. In other words, the defendant intended to perform the act and should have foreseen the risks.

However, one element that distinguishes reckless endangerment from other charges involves the disregard for putting others in danger, but not necessarily the intent to harm. Reckless endangerment reaches a standard that exceeds negligence, but does not involve more serious elements of criminal behavior.

What are Some Examples of Reckless Endangerment?

A reckless endangerment charge comes up in various situations, including the following:

  • Domestic abuse
  • Child abuse
  • Car accidents
  • Work accidents
  • Kidnapping
  • Robbery

In some cases, a parent or caregiver who carelessly allows a child to be exposed to weapons, drugs, or other dangerous items can be charged with reckless endangerment. Also, an intoxicated driver can be charged with reckless endangerment.

What are the Penalties of a Reckless Endangerment Charge?

In Pennsylvania, reckless endangerment is a second-degree misdemeanor, carrying a penalty of up to two years in prison in addition to a fine up to $5000. In determining an appropriate penalty, the judge will consider the conditions of the incident and the gravity of the danger. Any prior charges against the defendant will also be reviewed.

Also, a conviction of reckless endangerment will remain on the permanent criminal record of the accused. A criminal record can cause issues with employment, school enrollment, and housing opportunities.

Defenses Used Against a Reckless Endangerment Charge

A common defense used against a reckless endangerment charge is when the defense makes the case that the actions were negligent, but did not rise to the level of recklessness.

Also, the defense might question the evidence against the accused. The defense might also argue that the perceived danger was not actually present, which would eliminate reckless endangerment.

Additionally, the defense may argue that the accused acted in self-defense or that their actions were accidental.

Why is Hiring a Lawyer Important?

It may be difficult to defend a reckless endangerment charge, so it is crucial that the accused hires an attorney who specializes in criminal law. An experienced lawyer will construct a viable defense in order to lessen or eliminate the charge.

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyers at the Law Offices of Heather J. Mattes Advise Clients Charged with Reckless Endangerment

If you have been accused of reckless endangerment, you should contact one of our knowledgeable West Chester criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Heather J. Mattes. You will want to have a strong criminal defense lawyer by your side. Complete our online form or call us at 610-431-7900 for a free consultation today. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout Chester County, Bucks County, Delaware County, Lehigh County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County.

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