What Does it Mean to Be Charged With Reckless Endangerment?

Reckless driving

When one night’s bad decisions or a heated household dispute results in a criminal case, you might find reckless endangerment charges added into your case. This misdemeanor can sometimes be easy for police and prosecutors to charge and prove, but it can have a permanent effect on your criminal record, impacting your life, job, and housing. Find out what reckless endangerment is, and what you can do if you have been charged with the crime.

What is Reckless Endangerment in Connecticut?

Connecticut reckless endangerment charges can be filed any time the police believe that you acted in a way that put others at risk of physical injury. If your reckless actions put someone at risk of physical injury (even if they were not actually harmed), you could be charged with Reckless Endangerment, 2nd Degree. If your actions demonstrated extreme indifference to human life, and created a danger of serious physical injury or death, that charge increases to Reckless Endangerment, 1st Degree. You might face charges for:

  • Allowing teens to drink and drive
  • Street racing
  • Refusing to stop for or driving away from a police officer
  • Brandishing or firing a gun or BB gun in public

Common Examples of Add-on Charges

While reckless endangerment can be charged on its own, it is often added on to other criminal charges when the activity involves a risk to some third person. You might be see reckless endangerment added on to charges of:

In general, reckless endangerment gets added based on the third parties involved in or close to the incident, such as:

  • Passengers in your vehicle,
  • Children in your home during a family violence incident,
  • Bystanders near a fight

There is also a separate statute, Risk of Injury to a Child, that may apply if the police believed you willfully or unlawfully put a child’s physical or mental health at risk. Prosecutors may charge this along with reckless endangerment of a child, depending on the circumstances and the proof they have of the intent of your actions.

Reckless Endangerment Punishment

You cannot be charged with a reckless endangerment felony in Connecticut. Both 1st and 2nd Degrees are misdemeanors. However, they carry different penalties.

  • First Degree is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail, probation and $2,000 in fines.
  • Second Degree is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail, and $1,000 in fines.

Like any misdemeanor conviction, these charges can have a permanent effect on your criminal record. If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor you may need to disclose it when completing a rental application, purchasing a firearm, or applying for student loans. It will also come up in background checks done by your employer. This means a misdemeanor on your criminal record can prevent you from entering some high-security careers.

In addition, a conviction for reckless endangerment (1st or 2nd degree) will stop you from obtaining a pistol permit, or cause your existing gun permit to be revoked. Even if the criminal penalties don’t sound serious, these long-term consequences mean you should speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney any time you are facing charges for reckless endangerment.

Defending Against “Reckless” Charges

Unlike most other Connecticut criminal charges, reckless endangerment (and reckless driving) charges don’t require the prosecutor to prove that you meant to do anything wrong. Most crimes have an intent element -- to be found guilty you must have wanted to do the thing you were doing (even if you didn’t intend the harm that resulted). But “reckless” charges don’t have that same intent requirement. All the prosecutor needs to show is that you acted in a reckless manner.

Defending against reckless charges often involves putting your actions in context -- showing that you weren’t being reckless and that there was a reason for your actions. Other defenses involve challenging the reason the police stopped you, the way they obtained evidence, or the credibility of the witnesses accusing you of putting them at risk.

Get Help from a Criminal Defense Attorney

Whether you are facing charges of reckless endangerment alone, or in connection with a DUI, family violence, or traffic charge, you need a knowledgeable lawyer on your side to help you build a strong defense. At the Lebedevitch Law Firm, based in Fairfield, Connecticut, criminal defense attorney Stephen Lebedevitch knows what it takes to defeat claims of recklessness. He will review your case and help you develop your strongest defense. Contact us for a free consultation to talk to Stephen today.

Categories: Criminal Defense