Utah Criminal Code 76-5-112: Reckless Endangerment — Penalty.
1. A person commits reckless endangerment if, under circumstances not amounting to a felony offense, the person recklessly engages in conduct that creates a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another person.
2. Reckless endangerment is a class A misdemeanor.
State laws will differ in the precise definition of what constitutes reckless endangerment. However, a person generally will be charged with that offense if they deliberately engage in behavior that poses a serious or substantial risk of injury to another person. This is especially true when the actor understood the risks but disregarded them anyway. The charge is sufficiently broad so as to cover a range of conduct that poses a sufficient risk to another person’s safety such that the law finds this behavior reckless. It must be proven that the defendant intended to commit the act giving rise to the charge. Further, it must be shown that the defendant knew (or in some cases, should have known) of the risk posed by this action. The defendant’s action must also exceed negligent or accidental conduct, posing a risk of harm that is itself unreasonable. It isn’t necessary to prove that the defendant intended their actions to cause harm to others or that they intended to cause the specific harm that resulted. The recklessness of the defendant’s conduct is sufficient. That is, the intent to act without regard to the risks is generally enough. The crime may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the specific facts of the case and your state. Typically, when there is a weapon involved, the crime gives rise to a felony charge. The same is true depending on who the victim is. For example, most people are familiar with the charge of reckless endangerment when a child is involved. Some states may issue a misdemeanor charge when the same behavior under the same set of facts will lead to a felony charge in another state. Regardless, it generally comes down to what the state considers necessary to discourage behavior it deems harmful to the public. Also keep in mind that in some states, even if you are charged with a misdemeanor, the state may impose penalties that are comparable to those imposed for a felony conviction. Again, a commonly recognized example of reckless endangerment activities involves children. Usually categorized as child endangerment laws, these laws make it a crime for any adult, who through recklessness or indifference, allows a child to be endangered. These types of activities include leaving a child in the care of a known abuser, leaving a child unattended, driving while intoxicated with a child in the car, or serving alcohol to a minor. Other common examples of conduct that might give rise to the charge of reckless endangerment include driving carelessly (i.e. driving while texting, speeding and disobeying other traffic laws), disregarding safety rules and protocols (i.e. a general contractor shortcuts safety rules in order to speed up construction), or medical abuse (i.e. ignoring policies that result in elder abuse at a nursing home).
Also consider the following conduct:
• Carrying a loaded gun in your purse into a theater with the safety off;
• Shooting a gun off in a crowd;
• Throwing rocks off a bridge at passing cars;
• Drag racing using public streets; or
• Removing a stop sign from a busy intersection.
In most jurisdictions, a charge for reckless endangerment usually hinges on your state of mind. Again, reckless endangerment doesn’t require proving intent, but your motivations still matter. Imagine that you are shooting at a gun range when your bullet leaves the premises and injuries someone on the street. Your actions may give rise to other charges, but reckless endangerment is arguable not one of them based on these limited facts. On the other hand, shooting your gun off in your backyard can lead to a reckless endangerment charge. Also, consider whether the facts of your case support a claim for self-defense. As well, while injury to person or property isn’t necessary to prove a reckless endangerment charge, the fact that there was no actual injury may help to mitigate (reduce) the charges. A charge of reckless endangerment can lead to serious criminal, personal, and financial consequences. Consider seeking the advice of a qualified criminal defense attorney to help you understand the specific nature of the charge and what you can do to challenge it.
Elements of Reckless Endangerment
Reckless endangerment is a crime, whereby a person behaves in a reckless manner which creates a substantial risk of a serious physical injury to another individual. For charges to proceed, the reckless behaviour must be proven. Further, it must be shown that the individual knew or should have known of the risk posed by this action. The individual’s action must also exceed negligent or accidental conduct, posing a risk of harm that is itself unreasonable. It isn’t necessary to prove that the individual intended their actions to cause harm to others or that they intended to cause the specific harm that resulted. The recklessness of the individual’s conduct is sufficient. That is, the intent to act without regard to the risks is generally enough. Reckless conduct endangering life is a very serious offence.
Safety risk must be managed
The proactive approach to take to ensure you meeting your due diligence and ensuring safety in the workplace are as follows:
• Always manage and mitigate safety risk
• Provide appropriate training and ensure periodic maintenance that are recorded
• Implement processes to ensure that risk levels are low or never occur
• Engage your supervisors in identifying failures in the process and ‘at risk’ behaviours.
• Ensure that supervisors take appropriate actions to manage safety
• Always induct workers on every new piece of plant, equipment or vehicle use.
Failure to comply and minimize risk can lead to serious accidents that will include prosecution with fines and jail time when it includes mental elements such as ‘knowingly’ or ‘willfulness’ or ‘recklessness’.
Differences Between Assault And Reckless Endangerment
Assault, battery and reckless endangerment are all often used interchangeably. However, there are stark differences between all three charges, and those differences ultimately impact the kind of defense required. Violence charges of any kind always carry hefty charges. At a minimum, a person will face Class A misdemeanor charges for simple assault, but the penalties only become more severe from there.
By Utah law, assault consists of the act of intentionally, recklessly or knowingly causing bodily harm to another individual. However, assault can also consist of instilling fear into someone that bodily harm is imminent.
Aggravated assault is a much more serious crime and will come with felony charges. This form of assault occurs when serious bodily injury occurs to another or when the person carries out the act with a weapon. Most courts differentiate between “bodily injury” and “serious bodily injury” based on whether the injuries presented a significant likelihood of death. Serious bodily injury can also involve wounds that result in a disability.
Reckless endangerment involves engaging in behavior that could potentially cause bodily harm. This is a misdemeanor crime, but if the endangerment involves a weapon of some kind, then it would upgrade to a felony charge. There are different types of reckless endangerment. There is public endangerment, which involves actions that put the general public in harm’s way. There is also animal and child endangerment, which involves putting animals or children into harmful situations. This can include negligence in addition to misconduct. For example, leaving a child in a locked car on a hot day would qualify as child endangerment. For any of these charges, the final decision ultimately comes down to the prosecutor proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that the crime took place. This is an incredibly high standard to meet, so the defendant should contact an attorney right away to start building a case.
Misdemeanor Reckless Endangerment
In Utah, a reckless endangerment in the second degree may be charged when an individual engages in conduct that creates a significant risk of severe injury to another individual. “Serious injury” is defined by the statutes to include:
• Loss or long-term impairment of any bodily organ, or
• Long-term health impairment, or
• Long-term serious disfigurement, or
• Impairment of an individual’s physical condition that either causes death or creates a significant risk of death
Reckless Endangerment is a serious offense that can damage your record and your reputation. In Utah, a person may be convicted of the crime of Reckless Endangerment if the state prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the person:
• Recklessly engaged in conduct;
• That placed or may have placed a person;
• In imminent danger of death;
• Or serious bodily injury.
The term reckless, as it is used here, means that a person was aware of, but consciously disregarded, a substantial and unjustifiable risk that his conduct would place another person in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury. If you have been charged with the crime of Reckless Endangerment, you should seek help from Utah criminal defense attorneys.
Reckless Endangerment may be defined as Class A Misdemeanor or as a more serious Felony Offense. If committed with a deadly weapon, Reckless Endangerment becomes a Class E Felony Offense. If the person commits Reckless Endangerment by discharging a firearm into a habitation (a home), the offense is a Class C Felony. Felony Reckless Endangerment can result in some or all of the following penalties and will depend on the facts of the Felony offense:
A sentence of 1 to 15 years in prison;
A probationary period;
A fine of up to $10,000;
Court costs; and
Points on your driving history if committed with a motor vehicle.
Other Consequences of a Felony Reckless Endangerment Conviction
In addition to the court-mandated penalties described above, a person convicted of Felony Reckless Endangerment may also experience serious collateral (other) consequences. A Utah Felony Reckless Endangerment conviction may result in the loss of college scholarships or the ability to seek admission to a higher learning institution. A conviction may also impact one’s ability to maintain or seek employment and may result in negative action to a professional license (e.g. nursing). Furthermore, a conviction for Felony Reckless Endangerment will always stay on a person’s criminal history, and current and future employers may access records of prior convictions. This means that under current Utah criminal law and expungement law you may not erase or expunge a Felony Reckless Endangerment conviction from public record. Accordingly, current and future employers may access records of Utah criminal convictions.
Various laws specify several types of endangerment:
Child endangerment and animal endangerment: placing a child or animal in a potentially harmful situation, either through negligence or misconduct.
Reckless endangerment: A person commits the crime of reckless endangerment if the person recklessly engages in conduct which creates substantial jeopardy of severe corporeal trauma to another person. “Reckless” conduct is conduct that exhibits a culpable disregard of foreseeable consequences to others from the act or omission involved. The accused need not intentionally cause resulting harm. The ultimate question is whether, under all of the circumstances, the accused’s demeanor was of that heedless nature that made it actually or imminently dangerous to the rights or safety of others.
Public endangerment is usually applied to crimes which place the public in some form of danger, although that danger can be more or less severe according to the crime. It is punished most frequently in Utah.
During child custody hearings, a judge makes many important considerations. For one, she needs to consider the bond between a child and a parent. Additionally, she needs to decide what is in the best interest of the child. However, much of the judge’s decision relies on past behavior of each parent. And if your past behavior resulted in child endangerment, then you may have a problem. Child endangerment occurs when you knowingly put your child in harm’s way. It does not matter whether the harm is physical or mental. Whether negligence or recklessness was the cause of endangerment, an individual could face charges. Endangerment comes in many forms. For example, it could be something minor, like leaving a child unattended. However, it could be something more serious, like driving drunk with a child in your car. Although child endangerment charges vary in severity, the court always takes them seriously. If you have a past child endangerment charge, then a judge will hold it against you in your battle for custody rights. If you have a history of child endangerment, then you need to fight hard for your custody rights. Even a minor incident is enough for a judge to limit your rights. When you go to court, a judge will take the incident very seriously. You need an experienced lawyer to stand up for you in court. Your child endangerment history might not be a reason to deny you custody rights. After all, everyone makes mistakes. If your charges were a misunderstanding or a genuine mistake, then you deserve a second chance. A lawyer can explain the situation to a judge. He might be able to get you the custody agreement that you want. However, it’s not easy. Contact a lawyer today to find out what he can do for you.
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It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506
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