In New York, criminal offenses are listed in the New York Penal Law; every offense has its own statute describing the elements of the particular crime. In most cases, it is easy to know what type of conduct violates the law: intentionally damaging another’s property by starting a fire or causing an explosion is Arson in the Fifth Degree; causing the death of another person by driving while intoxicated is Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree; etc. The crime of Reckless Endangerment, on the other hand, is not so clear-cut. Although the crime is defined in New York law, it can still be hard to know when particular conduct runs afoul of the law and when it doesn’t. This makes the offense easier to charge and pursue for prosecutors, but it also creates opportunities for an experienced criminal defense attorney to mount a smart and strategic defense.
Below is a look at the crime of reckless endangerment in New York, including how the offense is defined, what it takes to convict, and possible defenses that might be available. If you have been arrested for reckless endangerment or other felonies or misdemeanors in the Hudson Valley, contact Dupée & Monroe, P.C., for immediate assistance from a skilled and knowledgeable Goshen criminal defense lawyer.
What Is Reckless Endangerment?
Reckless endangerment in New York is a serious offense defined under Penal Law sections 120.20 and 120.25. This crime involves engaging in conduct that creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury or death to another person. It’s crucial to understand the elements of this crime, as outlined in these statutes, to fully grasp its gravity and implications.
In any criminal case, the prosecution bears the burden of proving the defendant committed every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. An effective defense attorney will be thoroughly familiar with the elements of the crime and the facts at hand and challenge the prosecution’s case at every turn, raising reasonable doubt or outright demonstrating why the state’s case falls short. The elements of reckless endangerment as defined in New York are:
- Conduct that Creates Risk: The defendant must have engaged in conduct that creates a significant risk of serious physical injury or death to another person.
- Recklessness: The conduct must be reckless, meaning a conscious disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk.
- Substantial and Unjustifiable Risk: The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregarding it constitutes a gross deviation from standard conduct.
Degrees of Reckless Endangerment in New York
New York Penal Law includes two statutes regarding reckless endangerment: reckless endangerment in the second degree and reckless endangerment in the first degree.
- Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree (Penal Law § 120.20): This is a class A misdemeanor and involves recklessly engaging in conduct creating a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.
- Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree (Penal Law § 120.25): This is a class D felony, characterized by recklessly engaging in conduct that creates a grave risk of death to another person under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life.
The consequences of a reckless endangerment conviction can be severe and life-altering. Conviction of reckless endangerment in the second degree can be punished by up to a year in jail, while a conviction for reckless endangerment in the first degree can yield up to seven years in prison. Other possible consequences can include fines and probation, in addition to the stain of a permanent criminal record, which can negatively impact one’s job, education, professional license, reputation in the community, and more. Even a misdemeanor charge should therefore be taken very seriously with the help of an experienced lawyer who can vigorously defend against the charges, seek a dismissal or reduction of charges, or work out a satisfactory resolution of the charges.
Defenses Against Reckless Endangerment Charges
An experienced criminal defense attorney can employ several defenses in reckless endangerment cases, including:
- Lack of Recklessness: Proving the defendant’s actions were not reckless.
- Absence of Substantial Risk: Arguing that the conduct did not create a substantial risk of serious physical injury or death.
- Mistake of Fact: Demonstrating that the defendant was operating under a mistaken belief which negates the reckless element.
In facing reckless endangerment charges, having a skilled criminal defense lawyer is paramount. Dupée & Monroe, based in Goshen and serving Orange County and the Hudson Valley, offers high-quality legal representation tailored to these complex cases. Our approach often involves the following steps as needed:
- Case Evaluation: Analyzing the facts and identifying strengths and weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.
- Strategic Defense: Crafting a defense strategy based on the specific circumstances of the case.
- Negotiation with Prosecutors: Working toward a favorable plea bargain or case dismissal.
- Trial Representation: Providing robust representation in court if the case goes to trial.
- Guidance and Support: Offering legal advice and emotional support throughout the process.
If you or a loved one is accused of reckless endangerment in New York, it’s essential to seek legal counsel immediately. Early intervention can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Dupée & Monroe’s criminal defense attorneys understand the intricacies of New York law and have a proven record in defending clients charged with a wide variety of misdemeanor and felony offenses.
Contact Dupée & Monroe for a Consultation
Facing reckless endangerment charges can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to navigate this challenging time alone. Contact Dupée & Monroe for a consultation to discuss your case and learn how their expertise can help protect your rights and secure the best possible outcome. Call 845-294-8900 right away for immediate assistance and to protect your rights to the fullest.