The crime of endangerment under Arizona law covers a broad range of conduct with a vague definition. Almost anything that an Arizona prosecutor believes to be dangerous could be charged under this crime. In fact, not a single person has to suffer an injury. All that is needed is a "substantial risk" that a person could be hurt, and you could be charged.
If you or someone you care for has been charged with endangerment, an experienced Arizona defense attorney will take your case to protect your constitutional rights. Remember, just because you are charged with a crime does not mean that you are guilty.
What is Endangerment?
Endangerment is defined in A.R.S. § 13-1201. It states:
A person commits endangerment by recklessly endangering another person with a substantial risk of imminent death or physical injury. (emphasis added).
Reckless conduct occurs when a person exhibits extreme indifference to human life or the risk of serious injury. The prosecutor must show that you were aware of, and consciously disregarded an unjustifiable and substantial risk that the injury would occur. It must be a gross deviation from the standard of care.
A substantial risk is one that is likely to occur and not a mere possibility. A substantial risk can also be considered when the risk of harm that could occur as a result of the conduct would be extreme, even if it is much less likely to occur.
Imminent Risk of Death or Physical Injury
The risk must be one that would or could happen in the near future, not some later date. This risk must also be of the kind that could cause death or physical injury to a person.
Endangerment is a charge which is incredibly broad and can be applied to a wide variety of situations. For example, firing a bullet into the air could be considered endangerment because of the risk of the bullet striking a person as it returns to the ground.
One of the most common versions of endangerment is charged against drivers. If a person drives his or her car in such a way that constitutes "reckless" conduct, that person can be charged with vehicular endangerment.
In many cases, prosecutors attempt to charge you with vehicular endangerment when at most the conduct should be charged as reckless driving.
Penalties for Endangerment
In most cases, an endangerment charge is a Class 1 misdemeanor with the following possible penalties:
- Up to six months in jail; and/or
- Fine of up to $2,500.
In cases where the Arizona prosecutor states that your conduct carries a substantial risk of imminent death, the crime is a Class 6 felony. It is punishable by the following possible penalties:
- Minimum sentence of six months incarceration; or
- Maximum sentence of 18 months incarceration.
Consult an Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with endangerment in Arizona, an experienced attorney at the The Hamp Law Offices can represent you in your defense.
We serve clients in Mohave, Yavapai, La Paz, and Coconino Counties, including the communities of Kingman, Bullhead City, Lake Havasu, Parker, Prescott, Williams, and Flagstaff, Arizona. Contact us today for a free consultation.