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What Reckless Endangerment?

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2024 | criminal defense |

Reckless endangerment is a crime codified under MD Code, Crim. Law § 3-204. It states:

  1. a) A person may not recklessly: 

(1) engage in conduct that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another; or

(2) discharge a firearm from a motor vehicle in a manner that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another.

Reckless endangerment differs from similar crimes, such as assault, in that it does not require the prosecutor to prove intent. The prosecutor does not need to show that you intended to create a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury. All they need to show is that your conduct was “reckless.” 

Serious physical injury has a specific meaning under the maryland code. Maryland Code, Crim. Law § 3-201 defines serious physical injury as an injury that:

(1) creates a substantial risk of death; or

(2) causes permanent or protracted serious:

(i) disfigurement;

(ii) loss of the function of any bodily member or organ; or

(iii) impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

Importantly, there are two major exceptions that can keep you from being charged with reckless endangerment. First, with the exception of discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle, the usage of a motor vehicle cannot be used for a reckless endangerment charge. This means that you cannot be charged with reckless endangerment for speeding. (You could, however, be charged with reckless driving or another traffic offense.

Second, the statute carves out an exception for discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle, in a way that creates substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another. The carve out is specifically for when an individual is acting in self defense from a crime of violence. Crimes of violence are crimes such as abduction, assault, carjacking, and other crimes specifically listed in Section 5-101 of the Maryland Public Safety Section. This means that if you are being carjacked (or a victim of another crime of violence), you still have the ability to defend yourself, with a legal firearm, if necessary without being subject to being convicted of reckless endangerment.

What is the penalty?

A reckless endangerment guilty conviction is a misdemeanor that can result in up to five years in jail and/or a fine not exceeding $5,000. While it is considered a misdemeanor, the substantial possible jail sentence and potential for a heavy fine displays how serious being charged with reckless endangerment is. The attorneys at Maronick Law are experienced with handling reckless endangerment cases and are ready to work with you to create the strongest defense possible. If you are charged with reckless endangerment the Maronick Law team is willing to work tirelessly to defend you.

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