Published on 6/12/2022, 2:12:00 PM
Everything you need to know about Reckless Endangerment charges in Maryland
In layman's terms, to act recklessly is to disregard a risk. However, under the Maryland Criminal Code, reckless endangerment has a specific meaning and carries serious penalties. And although Maryland's reckless endangerment statute has a valid purpose-to deter people from engaging in potentially harmful conduct-overzealous prosecutors are often quick to charge individuals with this crime despite a lack of solid evidence.
Therefore, if you've been charged with reckless endangerment in the state of Maryland, you should immediately contact an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney for assistance.
In this article, we examine the crime of reckless endangerment in Maryland.
What is Reckless Endangerment?
Pursuant to section 3-204 of the Maryland Criminal Code, a person can commit the crime of reckless endangerment in two ways.
The first way an individual can commit reckless endangerment is to create a substantial risk of serious physical injury or death to another person.
The second manner by which a person can commit reckless endangerment is to discharge a firearm from a motor vehicle in a manner that creates a substantial risk of serious injury or death to another individual.
Reckless endangerment usually arises in situations in which a person's behavior is so irresponsible that it puts others in danger. This type of behavior often happens when someone does not intentionally hurt another person but behaves so carelessly that it puts the other person at risk.
Reckless Endangerment and the Reasonable Person Standard
The standard by which courts evaluate conduct that constitutes reckless endangerment in Maryland is known as the the "reasonable person" standard. In other words, when a court attempts to determine whether a person's behavior constitutes reckless endangerment, it examines whether an ordinary person in the same or similar circumstances would have behaved similarly to the defendant.
Elements of Reckless Endangerment
For a defendant to be found guilty of reckless endangerment, the three following elements must be present:
(1) The defendant engaged in conduct that created a substantial risk of serious injury or death to another person;
(2) A reasonable person would not have engaged in such conduct; and
(3) The defendant acted recklessly.
If the prosecutor in the case can prove to the court or jury that these three elements are present, then the court is likely to find the defendant guilty of reckless endangerment. However, proving these elements isn't easy-especially when a defendant has an experienced criminal defense attorney on his or her side. Therefore, if you are facing a reckless endangerment charge, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible for assistance.
Examples of Reckless Endangerment
Although there are many circumstances that can result in reckless endangerment charges, such charges tend to arise in two primary ways.
The first is when a reckless endangerment charge is the result of a single act, such as when a person fires a weapon aimlessly toward an area where other people could arguably be expected to be present.
And the second way that a reckless endangerment charge often arises is when one person is accused of attacking someone else, the theory being that during the alleged attack, the defendant also recklessly endangered the victim.
In such cases, reckless endangerment often represents the lesser offense, and it is charged along with violent crimes like first-degree assault and second-degree assault.
Of course, these are not the only ways that people can find themselves facing reckless endangerment charges. Additional examples of reckless endangerment include:
Failing to offer medical help to a person to whom responsibility was owed
Failing to secure firearms in a residence where children reside
Firing a gun inside a vehicle
Transporting a loaded firearm without a safety device in a backpack
Car accidents caused by intentionally dangerous driving, like ramming a vehicle
Construction site accidents caused by intentional actions
Throwing heavy items off of overpasses or the roofs of tall buildings
Throwing objects at moving vehicles
Reckless Endangerment Penalties
A reckless endangerment conviction in Maryland carries serious penalties.
Specifically, a reckless endangerment conviction is a misdemeanor that can result in up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Due to the serious nature of these penalties, you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible if you are facing a reckless endangerment charge.
Exceptions/Defenses to Reckless Endangerment
If you've been charged with reckless endangerment, you may have certain defenses available to you, or you may be subject to certain legal exceptions. For example, a law enforcement officer acting during the scope of his or her employment is excepted from reckless endangerment charges.
In addition, a common defense to reckless endangerment is when a person acts in self-defense due to a fear of becoming a victim of violence. Regarding the latter, a person who defends his or herself from violent acts like abduction, kidnapping, arson, burglary, rape, and murder has a valid defense to a reckless endangerment charge.
However, to qualify as self-defense, an individual must believe that he or she was in immediate danger of bodily harm at the time of the act. This belief must be reasonable, and the person must use no more force than is necessary to thwart the violent act.
Self defense must be generated during the course of a trial, which is something an experienced criminal defense lawyer will explain.
Identifying and asserting defenses and exceptions to reckless endangerment can be complicated. Therefore, if you are facing a reckless endangerment charge in Maryland, you should contact an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible for help fighting your charge.
How A Maryland Reckless Endangerment Lawyer Can Help
Reckless endangerment is a complicated charge, both to understand and defend.
In fact, many people who face reckless endangerment charges don't have a clear understanding of the actions they took that led to the charge. If you fail to understand the nature of your charge, defending yourself against a reckless endangerment accusation can be nearly impossible.
Therefore, it is imperative that you seek legal representation when facing a reckless endangerment charge in Maryland.
An experienced attorney will not only explain your charge to you, but he will aggressively defend you in court and do everything possible to ensure that your case has a successful result.
Contact a Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney Today for Assistance
If you are facing a reckless endangerment charge in the state of Maryland, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. At FrizWoods, our experienced criminal defense lawyers take great pride in the fact that we are one of the most accessible criminal defense law firms in the state.
With some larger criminal defense "settlement mills," getting ahold of your attorney can be difficult-if not impossible. In addition, these types of firms treat their clients like numbers-not people. At FrizWoods, however, you can reach your attorney any time of the day, seven days a week through our 24-hour attorney line.
In addition, experienced criminal defense attorneys Max Frizalone and Luke Woods have a deep and thorough understanding of the Maryland legal system, and we will use our knowledge and experience to provide you with the most effective legal representation possible in your reckless endangerment case.
Therefore, if you are in need aggressive legal defense in your Maryland criminal case, please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our talented Maryland reckless endangerment defense lawyers.
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