Under California law, reckless endangerment or criminal negligence refers to situations where individuals disregard known or obvious risks to the safety and well-being of others. To find an individual guilty of reckless endangerment, there must be a "criminal intent." However, when a person's negligent action leads to injury or death, even though you may not have intended to cause injury or harm, it could result in reckless endangerment charges. Examples of reckless endangerment could include child endangerment, elder abuse or even an act reckless driving such as street racing.
If a person acts in a reckless or negligent manner and that act causes injury or death, he or she can face criminal charges and also be held civilly liable. Civil negligence occurs when someone gets injured or killed as a result of another person's recklessness or carelessness. Criminal negligence occurs when there is an extreme departure from the way a "reasonable" person would act.
In a case involving civil negligence, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff where liability is determined based on a "preponderance of the evidence." This means that a judge or jury must find that the defendant most likely acted in a negligent manner which caused or contributed to the plaintiff's injuries. In a criminal negligence case, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. The prosecutor must prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Elements of a Reckless Endangerment Case
In order to obtain conviction in a reckless endangerment case, the prosecutor must generally prove three elements:
- That the defendant's reckless actions caused or created the risk of great bodily injury or death.
- That the act showed a disregard for the safety and well-being of others and
- That a reasonable person in a similar situation would have known that the reckless actions would or could result in injury or harm to others.
It is important to remember that a simple lapse in judgment, inattention or carelessness cannot be treated as reckless endangerment. For the act to rise to the level of criminal negligence, it must be outrageous and reckless. An example of reckless endangerment is when a parent who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs leaves their child in a locked car. This amounts to criminal child endangerment. The consequences for reckless endangerment could include jail or prison time, hefty fines and probation.
Call for Help Today
If you or a loved one is facing reckless endangerment charges, please contact Ventura criminal defense lawyer Daniel E. Kann to discuss your case at absolutely no cost. We represent those accused of violating California's criminal negligence laws. We will work diligently to have your charges reduced or dismissed. Contact us today to find out how we can help.