What Is Reckless Endangerment?

Reckless Endangerment in AL


Reckless endangerment is an important concept to understand in Alabama criminal law. This crime encompasses any act that recklessly creates a significant risk of serious physical injury to another person and does not require intent for conviction. The state’s criminal code recognizes this as a Class A misdemeanor, requiring the services of a criminal defense lawyer to help protect against such a charge.

What constitutes reckless behavior can vary from case to case and is often decided by a reasonable person standard. In other words, would a reasonable person expect their actions to create a substantial risk of harm? It is ultimately up to a law enforcement officer to decide if the accused has committed such an offense.

Reckless endangerment is a serious offense and should not be taken lightly. If you find yourself accused of such an offense in Alabama, reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to ensure you get the best possible legal representation.

What Is Considered Reckless Endangerment?

Alabama defines reckless endangerment as engaging in conduct that creates “a substantial risk of serious physical injury” to another person. Put simply – it means putting someone else in harm’s way without regard for the outcome. Even though the victim does not have to suffer an injury for a person to be accused of this crime, the consequences of this kind of behavior can be serious.

Alabama Code § 13A-6-24 Reckless Endangerment

Under Alabama Code § 13A-6-24 (PDF), individuals who engage in risky conduct may potentially be held liable for their actions, and penalties can range from misdemeanors to felonies, depending on the arresting officer’s discretion. It’s important to recognize that these charges are serious; even a minor offense could have serious implications. To ensure your rights are protected, and you receive a fair outcome, it is worth considering hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney. After all, when facing potential legal repercussions, it pays to be safe rather than sorry.

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is an offense that covers a wide range of irresponsible actions on the road. From speeding to improper passing, failure to signal, and more, reckless driving can encompass any behavior that puts other drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists in danger.

Officers have the discretion to assess each situation individually, but sometimes issuing multiple separate tickets for each offense can be impractical or time-consuming. In cases like this, they may instead cite the driver with a single reckless driving charge that encapsulates their behavior.

Rather than explain each offense separately in court, they can explain why these actions–in combination–increased the safety risk on the road and put others at risk. It’s important to note that even seemingly minor offenses can add up and make roads unsafe when done repeatedly and in combination.

Consequences of Reckless Conduct

Unlike Negligence, recklessness can endanger the lives of others, as everyone should be aware. Reckless endangerment charges may apply when it results in injury or death to another person.

Recently in Jefferson County, after a highway police officer directing traffic was hit by an intoxicated woman attempting to drive around slow traffic, she was charged with reckless endangerment and vehicular manslaughter due to the officer’s serious injuries. Similarly, a woman driving aggressively while under the influence of medication struck a pregnant mother and her daughter crossing the street. The daughter died, and the judge ruled that the woman should have been aware of the risks due to the warning on her medication not to operate a vehicle. The woman was later sent to prison.

These cases demonstrate how serious the consequences can be when someone disregards the potential for danger and puts other people’s lives at risk.

Examining Foreseeability

In determining this, we must look at the foreseeable consequences or risks of harm the alleged criminal behavior could have caused. An example might be someone flipping and catching a pistol while those around them are nearby. Here, the potential for serious physical harm to others is readily apparent.

Endangerment in Alabama

In Alabama, a person can face charges of reckless endangerment even if no physical injury was caused. Many times, this crime is associated with motor vehicles – and a skilled traffic lawyer may be able to help if you face these serious criminal charges.

In 1977, Alabama legislated the crime of Reckless Endangerment, which covers all reckless behavior that presents a substantial risk of serious physical harm to any person. As such, it captures a variety of potential scenarios that would otherwise fall under different laws related to endangering the safety of others, such as children, elderly people, and more.

Circumstantial Evidence Can Support Charges

When responding to an emergency call, police officers are called upon to make judgment calls about who, if anyone, should be charged. If they decide that a person has acted recklessly, they can then choose to arrest them or file charges against them based on their gathered evidence. Circumstantial evidence can be particularly useful in these cases, allowing police to build a case against a person even if there are no witnesses or physical proof that they committed the crime.

Is Reckless Endangerment a Serious Crime in Alabama?

Under Alabama law, reckless endangerment is considered a serious crime. With potential penalties ranging from misdemeanors to felonies, this 40-year-old law can tremendously impact an individual’s life. Unfortunately, a search of Westlaw does not reveal any reported appeals based upon this statute being overly broad. This could indicate that some cases are negotiated to lesser offenses or dismissed altogether.

Potentially Life-Altering Consequences

Reckless endangerment charges should not be taken lightly. You could face steep fines, time behind bars, and a permanent mark on your criminal record if convicted. This can devastate various aspects of your life, such as your ability to find employment, obtain housing, get approved for loans, and much more.

Your Rights Matter – Facing Charges Alone Is Not an Option

If you are facing reckless endangerment charges, it is important to remember that you do not have to face them alone. Hiring experienced lawyers in Alabama who understand the complexities of the legal system and have a successful track record can be essential in helping you fight these charges. Our firm offers free initial consultations with top Alabama criminal defense attorneys who can help protect your rights throughout the process.

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