I’ve Been Charged With Reckless Endangerment. What Is That?
To convict under this charge, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant recklessly created a substantial risk serious physical injury or death, to another. As with the separate crime of assault, one does not actually have to injure another to be convicted of this crime. As Attorney Eric T. Kirk will tell you.
It is the threat of harm that is the object of these types of statutes, and the gravamen of this offense is not actual harm itself.
While this offense is a misdemeanor, it is nevertheless punishable by five years in prison. Recklessness is not the same as intent. The defendant does not need to know that someone may be harmed, just be aware that harm is a possible outcome, disregard that risk, and engage in some conduct that creates that risk. The offense is complete when the potentially harmful conduct occurs, regardless of whether any harm occurs. In many of these cases, there is no typical victim, at least in the sense of one who suffered harm or loss as a result of the defendant’s conduct.