Endangerment is a serious crime that Maricopa County prosecutors bring when they believe that someone put another person’s life or safety in jeopardy by ignoring a known risk. There are many situations that can give rise to endangerment charges, such as driving under the influence with a passenger, leaving a weapon accessible to a minor, or committing an assault. Those who have been charged with endangerment should retain an experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney, as an endangerment conviction can result in jail time.
At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we have a long history of defending clients facing endangerment charges. We understand all the best defenses to endangerment, when they apply, and how to use them to minimize the impact our client’s arrest has on the rest of their life.How Does Arizona Law Define Endangerment?
Under Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1201, endangerment involves “recklessly endangering another person with a substantial risk of imminent death or physical injury.” While the law doesn’t define what “recklessly endangering” entails, courts have held that reckless means the conscious disregarding of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that represents a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the same situation. In effect, what this means is that it’s up to a judge or jury to determine whether your actions were reckless and, therefore, rose to the level of endangerment.Examples of Arizona Endangerment Charges
Endangerment is an incredibly broad crime that applies in many different contexts. For example, the following could all give rise to endangerment charges:
- Driving under the influence while transporting a passenger;
- Recklessly discharging a firearm;
- Leaving a loaded and unlocked firearm in the presence of a minor;
- Committing an assault;
- Drag racing; and
- Throwing objects at a moving vehicle.
Often, but not always, prosecutors will bring endangerment charges along with other crimes, depending on the surrounding circumstances. For example, if you were driving under the influence with a minor passenger, you may face aggravated DUI charges as well as endangerment charges.What Are the Penalties for a Phoenix Endangerment Conviction?
Endangerment is what is known as a wobbler offense, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Under A.R.S. 13-1201, endangerment is a class 1 misdemeanor if the defendant’s actions created a substantial risk of injury. A class 1 misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $750.
However, if the defendant’s actions resulted in a substantial risk of death, the offense is graded as a class 6 felony. A class 6 felony conviction will result in a potential jail sentence of between four months and two years, with one year being the presumptive sentence.Defenses to Endangerment
There are many defenses to endangerment that can result in the prosecution withdrawing the case against you or an acquittal at trial. For example, a Phoenix endangerment lawyer may argue that your actions, while negligent, did not rise to the level of being reckless. Similarly, your attorney may explain that regardless of whether your actions were reckless, no one was put at serious risk of injury or death.
There are other endangerment offenses that relate to the underlying conduct giving rise to the charges. For example, an experienced Phoenix DUI defense attorney may argue that his client was not impaired, negating the elements of both the DUI and endangerment charges.Have You Been Arrested and Charged with Endangerment?
If you have an upcoming court date for an endangerment charge, it is important that you walk into court with a seasoned criminal defense attorney by your side. Not only will having an experienced lawyer in your corner provide you with peace of mind, but an attorney can also help you determine the best defense based on the facts of your case. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we have decades of experience defending clients from all types of crimes, including endangerment. We hit the ground running in every case we handle, looking to resolve your case quickly and with as little impact on your future as possible. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 480-413-1499. You can also reach us through our online contact form.