West Chester

Reckless Endangerment Attorney

“Reckless endangerment” is a vague term, and lawmakers meant it to be. Lawmakers designed reckless endangerment charges to be a catch-all for any behavior prosecutors consider dangerous, but do not fall within an assault offense. There may not be a victim, or any harm done, and a prosecutor could still charge you with a violent crime for reckless endangerment. If convicted, you face incarceration, probation, fines, and other penalties.

Attorney Michael J. Skinner is an experienced reckless endangerment lawyer who will fight these charges to preserve your record and spare you from harsh consequences. As a former Chester County prosecutor, he will diligently research the case, identify the most effective defense strategy, and pursue a pretrial dismissal or acquittal. When you face charges of reckless endangerment in West Chester, Phoenixville, Exton, Kennett Square, Downingtown, Wayne, Coatesville, or anywhere in Chester County, call Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.

What Is Reckless Endangerment?

Under 18 PA Cons Stat §2705, a prosecutor can charge you with a second-degree misdemeanor if you recklessly engage in conduct that places or may place another person in danger of serious bodily injury.

This is a broad statute, and  to be convicted, a prosecutor must prove you engaged in reckless conduct. Recklessness is more than carelessness. It encompasses behaving in a way that demonstrates a disregard for other people or property’s safety.

Intent is Not Necessary

Unlike other assault-related offenses, reckless endangerment does not require that you intend to cause someone harm or place someone in danger. Prosecutors do not have to prove a specific intent for you to be convicted of this crime.

An Identifiable Victim is Not Necessary

Under Pennsylvania law, a prosecutor does not have to prove that any specific person was put at risk by your reckless conduct. The prosecutor only must establish that you placed other people in harm’s way. Those people may be identifiable, or they may be members of the general public.

Injury or Death is Not Necessary

The prosecution does not have to establish that you caused anyone actual harm. The prosecution only has to establish your reckless conduct created a risk of serious bodily injury to at least one person.

Reckless Endangerment in PA

Reckless endangerment encompasses a wide range of behavior. Some examples include:

  • Allowing a child to play with or on dangerous objects.
  • Allowing a child to play with dangerous substances, like bottles of nicotine liquid or bleach.
  • Leaving a young child unattended for an extended time.
  • Driving while impaired by alcohol, controlled substances, prescription drugs, or over-the-counter drugs.
  • Failing to tell a sexual partner of a diagnosis of HIV or other sexually transmitted infections.
  • Pointing a loaded gun at someone.
  • Indiscriminately firing a gun into the air.

Is Reckless Endangerment a Felony?

No, reckless endangerment is not a felony in Pennsylvania. A reckless endangerment offense is considered a second-degree misdemeanor.

Reckless Endangerment Penalties

As a second-degree misdemeanor, reckless endangerment is punishable by up to two years and a fine up to $5,000.

You will also be stuck with a reckless endangerment conviction on your record. It will show up on background checks and give the impression you are an irresponsible person who makes poor decisions with dangerous consequences. This is likely to turn off potential employers, landlords, school officials, and creditors. You may also lose out on educational and professional opportunities. If you share child custody, you could lose time with your children or be required to go through supervised visitation.

Remember these penalties are not necessarily guaranteed. Criminal charges do not automatically lead to convictions. Prosecutors must prove every element of their case beyond a reasonable doubt. In reckless endangerment cases, prosecutors must prove there was an actual possibility of danger due to your actions, which can be difficult. Your reckless endangerment attorney will look at every detail of your case and identify the flaws in the prosecution’s case.

Defending Against Reckless Endangerment

When you are facing reckless endangerment charges, it is critical you retain an experienced defense attorney with prior success fighting against reckless endangerment, child endangerment, and other related charges.

Some possible defenses against reckless endangerment charges in PA include:

  • Self-defense or defense of others: You are entitled to use reasonable force if attached by another person to defend yourself or others from harm.
  • Lack of reckless conduct: Your attorney may seek to prove your conduct was not reckless. Your actions may have been ill-advised or careless but may not have risen to the level of recklessness.
  • Accident: There may be evidence that your actions were accidental or involuntary.
  • Lack of danger: Your lawyer may present evidence that no one was in harm’s way because of your actions. Or, your lawyer may prove others would only have suffered minor injuries if they suffered any harm at all.

A Chester County Attorney for Reckless Endangerment

Despite the purposefully vague language in the law, you can still fight reckless endangerment charges. At Skinner Law Firm, you’ll benefit from a dedicated attorney reviewing the situation from every angle, looking for the weaknesses, and aggressively pursuing the best possible outcome. This could lead to a dismissal, a drastic reduction in the charges, or mitigating the negative impact to your life.

If you’re facing reckless endangerment charges in West Chester or anywhere in Chester County, call Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 to set up a free consultation.