New York Reckless Endangerment charges frequently involve bad decision making. While it may not seem like you are committing a crime at the time, your rushed decisions may actually be prosecuted in New York as Reckless Endangerment Charges.

Examples of Conduct that may constitute Reckless Endangerment in New York State:

  • Throwing a Keuring machine down a garbage shoot in a high-rise building,
  • Driving a car and veering off the road to stoke a pedestrian (People v. Smith, 76 Misc. 2d 867)
  • Shooting a gun at an empty house (Matter of Mario 75 A.D.2d 954)
  • Pushing an individual onto subway tracks, while being a frequent subway rider and knowing the risk of such conduct (Matter of Louis, 54 A.D.2d 712)
  • Dragging an individual with a car (People v. Augustine, 285 A.D.2d 609)
  • Setting a competitor’s store on fire (People v. Rodriguez, 110 Misc. 2d 828)

New York Reckless Endangerment Charges Explained

New York Reckless Endangerment Charges are codified in New York Penal Law Section 120. There are two reckless endangerment charges in New York. Specifically, they are:

  • Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree (New York Penal Law 120.25)
  • Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 120.20)

The difference between these New York Reckless Endangerment charges is explained below.

What is New York Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree?

Under New York Penal Law Section 120.20, a person is guilty of Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree when he or she:

  1. Recklessly engages in conduct
  2. Which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.

Legal Definitions of Reckless Endangerment Terms

Definition of Recklessly

Under New York Law, a person recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person:

  1. When he or she engages in conduct which creates a substantial and unjustifiable risk of serious physical injury to another person, AND
  2. When he or she is aware of and consciously disregards that risk, AND
  3. When that risk is of such nature and degree that disregard of it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would engage in.

Importantly, there is no requirement for Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree or Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree that any harm or physical injury occur to anyone. The elements of the crime just require (1) conduct that creates an unjustifiable risk of serious physical injury or death (2) awareness and disregard of that risk and (3) a reasonable person would not engage in such conduct and (4) the defendant’s actions would need to be a deviation from such conduct.

Definition of Serious Physical Injury

Under New York Law, Serious Physical Injury means impairment of a person’s physical condition, which:

  1. Creates a substantial risk of death, OR
  2. Causes
    1. Death, OR
    2. Serious or protracted disfigurement, OR
    3. Protracted impairment of health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.

Voluntary Intoxication is Not a Defense to Reckless Endangerment Charges

Under New York law, a person also acts recklessly when s/he creates a substantial and unjustifiable risk of serious physical injury, but is unaware of that risk solely by reason of his or her voluntary intoxication.

What is the Sentencing for New York Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree?

New York Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree is a Class A misdemeanor. As such, this charge is punishable by up to one year in prison. Practically speaking, this type of charge usually does not involve an incarceratory sentence. Other possible sentences for this New York Reckless Endangerment charge involve a conditional discharge, an unconditional discharge, probation or time served.

What is New York Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree?

Under New York Penal Law Section 120.25, a person is guilty of Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree when:

  1. Under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life,
  2. S/he recklessly engages in conduct
  3. Which creates a grave risk of death to another person.

What is Depraved Indifference to Human Life under New York Law?

New York’s legal definition of depraved indifference human life refers to the individual’s state of mind in recklessly engaging in conduct which creates a grave risk of death. As the Court has explained in People v. Suarez, “depraved indifference is best understood as 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.”

Simply put, it is engaging in conduct which creates a grave risk of death, knowing that such conduct creates a grave risk of death and not caring, or even disregarding any sort of potential harm that may result from these actions.

What exactly is Conduct Which Creates a Grave Risk of Death to Another Person?

This type of conduct happens when an individual:

  1. Engages in conduct which creates a grave and unjustifiable risk that another person’s death will occur, AND
  2. When he or she is aware of and consciously disregards that risk, AND
  3. When that grave and unjustifiable risk is of such nature and degree that disregard of it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.

Importantly, reckless conduct which results in a grave risk of death alone is not enough to convict someone of this crime. No matter how grave and probable the risk of death was. The prosecutor must prove and the evidence must show that the Defendant acted in a manner evincing a depraved indifference to human life.

What is the Sentencing for New York Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree?

Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree is a Class D Non-Violent Felony. As such, this charge is punishable by up to 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison. Practically speaking, however, a sentence of probation or a conditional discharge can be imposed on New York Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree charges.

High Profile Reckless Endangerment Prosecutions

Harco Construction Reckless Endangerment Conviction

In 2016, Harco Construction was found guilty of Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree and other related charges (including Manslaughter in the Second Degree and Criminally Negligent Homicide) for the death of Carlos Moncayo. The company, was acquitted of Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree. The prosecutors argued that the company’s negligence and disregard of dangerous conditions on a construction site, contributed to the collapse of a 14-foot trench, that led to Mr. Moncayo being crushed by thousands of pounds of dirt in April 2015.

Crashing Drone into the Empire State Building

In 2016, a man lost control of his drone, which flew into the Empire State Building. Although the initial charges were Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree, the case was ultimately resolved with a plea to disorderly conduct (New York Penal Law 240.20, a violation and not a crime) and a $200 fine.

Knowingly Having Sexual Intercourse with Someone Without Disclosing HIV Status

In People v. Williams (24 N.Y.3d 1129), the New York Court of Appeals examined the issue of whether engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse with someone while being HIV positive, without disclosure of that fact constitutes Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree or Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree. The Court held there is no evidence that defendant, who had unprotected sex with the victim after being diagnosed as HIV positive, exposed the victim to the risk of HIV infection out of any malevolent desire for the victim to contract the virus, or that he was utterly indifferent to the victim’s fate. The Court upheld the conviction for Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree, but upheld the trial court’s decision in dismissing the Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree charge.

Contact Top Rated New York Reckless Endangerment Attorneys

If you or your loved one are charged with Reckless Endangerment charges, it is important that you consult an experienced New York Reckless Endangerment Attorney regarding your case. A rushed decision that you made that got you arrested should not be following you for the rest of your life. Reckless endangerment charges can become a permanent conviction on your record. They can also result in jail time or a probationary sentence. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.