In Arizona, you commit endangerment if you recklessly endanger someone with a high risk of physical injury or imminent (certain or impending) death. This can mean anything from driving under the influence to handling weapons in a careless way. 

Endangerment can come with serious consequences, from fines and a permanent mark on your record, to prison time in serious cases. If someone has accused you of this offense, it’s best to know the rules surrounding it to get the best outcome.

What Qualifies as Reckless Endangerment?

In order to receive a conviction for endangerment, the defendant must have intended to perform the action leading to the charge. They must have known (or had reason to know) of the risks involved in what they did. Their behavior needs to have gone beyond accidental or negligent conduct, causing an unreasonable risk or harm to another person.

Assault vs. Endangerment 

The law considers endangerment similar to assault, and the two often overlap. To better understand these charges, let’s look closer at each of them:

Assault

You can receive a charge or conviction for assault even if you haven’t physically injured another person. Contrary to what some believe, you don’t have to actually touch someone to receive a charge for assault. Assault simply refers to an intentional attempt to injure or threaten someone.

To receive an assault conviction, there must be proof that you intentionally or knowingly injured or tried to injure someone. This means you placed them in risk of physical harm, or touched them with the intention to provoke, insult, or cause injury. Assault charges often come with an endangerment charge.

Endangerment

Unlike assault, which involves intent, endangerment doesn’t require the accused to have acted in harmful ways purposefully. To be guilty of endangerment, you must have acted with disregard for the consequences of your actions. You may receive an endangerment charge whether you actually injure or harm someone or not. 

Examples of Endangerment

Endangerment involves disregarding safety protocols and rules, like ignoring policies at work and creating a risk of injury. Behaviors like shooting off a gun in a crowd or throwing rocks at cars can count as endangerment. Other examples include carrying a loaded gun without the safety on in a crowded place or racing cars on a public street.

The legal definition for endangerment is intentionally vague. This gives law enforcement and legal officials the ability to use their judgment and give this charge to behavior that seems dangerous to them. The prosecutor only has to allege that a substantial risk existed for someone to suffer injury or death due to your behavior.

Vehicular Endangerment vs. Reckless Driving

Vehicular endangerment and reckless driving are not the same crime, although they can be similar. 

Vehicular Endangerment

Among the commonest versions of endangerment is vehicular endangerment. This crime involves someone driving their car in a reckless way that could harm others, like speeding down a busy street

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving, on the other hand, involves operating your vehicle with a disregard for persons or property. Factors that can impact whether your driving counts as reckless is the time of day, whether there are other drivers on the road, the current weather conditions, and more.

Endangerment and DUIs

Driving while under the influence is one of the most common actions that can lead to an endangerment charge. You may receive this charge even if you aren’t in a car accident. If you receive a blood test that shows you were over the legal limit and caused a low-impact accident with no injuries, you may receive a misdemeanor DUI charge in addition to an endangerment charge. 

And since this crime also involves a dangerous instrument (vehicle) according to Arizona law, it could involve prison time. A prison sentence can occur if it’s proven that the driver placed another driver at serious risk of imminent death. Operating a vehicle while under the influence puts other drivers at risk of harm in a substantial and immediate way. You might also receive an aggravated assault charge if you hit another driver or had people in your car.

Sentencing for Endangerment

What does it mean to be charged with endangerment? Is reckless endangerment a felony or a misdemeanor?  If the action didn’t involve a risk of imminent death, it’s a Class 1 Misdemeanor charge. If your actions did involve placing someone at substantial risk of death, it’s a Class 6 Felony.

How Much Time do You Get for Reckless Endangerment?

For a Class 6 Felony charge of endangerment, a first offense may get 12 months of prison time, while an aggravated offense may get a 2-year sentence. A Class 1 Misdemeanor charge may come with a 6-month maximum jail sentence and $2,500 worth of fines.

How Long does Endangerment Stay on Your Record?

According to Arizona law, your criminal charges stay on record until you’re 99. It’s not technically allowable to erase or seal a charge or arrest in the state, even if you went through probation. So, if you’re convicted of endangerment, it will always be on your record.

Need Help with an Endangerment Charge?

Your criminal history can have a serious impact on your life, from finances to job opportunities and beyond. Many people don’t know that the same case or charge can result in multiple different outcomes. Without an experienced lawyer’s help, you may end up with a less-than-favorable situation. 

You might be able to go from a risk of multiple charges to lessened penalties with the right legal assistance. You could get your charges reduced and receive fines and classes rather than time in jail. Contact our criminal defense professionals today for assistance.

Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.

Get Your Free Case Review

Fill out the form below to get your free consultation and discuss your best legal options.