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Reckless Endangerment Charges

In Washington State, the reckless endangerment criminal process begins when law enforcement believes that your actions could have caused someone serious physical harm.

Reckless Endangerment Definition - (RCW 9A.36.050)

“A person is guilty of reckless endangerment when he or she recklessly engages in conduct not amounting to drive-by shooting but that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person.”

The above definition is intentionally vague and this leads to many people being prosecuted for a wide variety of reasons, many of which are questionable.

Penalties for Reckless Endangerment

Reckless Endangerment is considered a gross misdemeanor in WA State, which is more serious than a simple misdemeanor.

A judge can order:

  • Up to 364 days in jail 
  • Electronic home monitoring (EHM)
  • Fines up to $5000
  • Loss of gun rights (if domestic violence)
  • Probation
  • Community Service
  • Mental health or addiction treatment

A conviction will result in a criminal record that can:

  • reduce your chances of getting housing 
  • result in employment termination 
  • reduce employment opportunities
  • cause child custody issues
  • have immigration consequences

Why was I Charged with Reckless Endangerment? Nobody was Hurt?

This accusation is often up to the discretion of the law endorsement officer who arrested you or gave you a criminal citation. Unfortunately, the WA State Court prosecutor will often go along with law enforcement's opinion and rubber stamp the filing of this charge.

We also see this charge brought when there is not enough evidence for a different crime. For example, you may have been originally cited for reckless driving or assault, but later charged with reckless endangerment.

What is considered Reckless Endangerment of a Child?

Putting a child in any situation that law enforcement believes is dangerous can trigger a reckless endangerment of a child charge. Common examples include being under suspicion of DUI with a child in the vehicle or leaving a young child in a car unattended.

Can Shooting a Gun be Reckless Endangerment?

Discharging a firearm in a manner that is deemed unsafe can result in a reckless endangerment arrest or citation. Also, pointing a gun at someone in a situation that is not self-defense is considered to be recklessly endangering that person.

What is Reckless Endangerment Domestic Violence?

If a family member, roommate, or romantic partner is the person considered to be recklessly endangered, a domestic violence enhancement may be added to the charge. This can result in a no contact order with the alleged victim and a loss of gun rights. 

How do I get Reckless Endangerment Charges Dropped?

Many people who are charged with this crime are first time offenders or are at least in good standing with their community. These types of facts can be helpful to your defense and credibility.

Reckless endangerment police reports are often heavy on law enforcement opinions and questionable evidence. At Beckwith Law, we do our own independent investigation to uncover evidence that is in your favor. In most situations, we can convince the prosecutor that their evidence is weak and they would lose if the case were to go to trial. 

While a dismissal, dropped charges, or no charges filed is the goal of every case, we understand situations where you may have admitted guilt or there may be damning video evidence. In these scenarios, hope is not lost. A negotiated settlement that can result in a slow dismissal could still be an option, especially if you are a first time offender or have limited criminal history.

Next Steps in Preventing a Conviction

If you are a suspect or defendant, it is important that you remain silent and preserve your rights. Only a Washington State attorney experienced with reckless endangerment should speak on your behalf.

At Beckwith Law we are reckless endangerment lawyers who know how to fight for you. We can also defend you from other criminal accusations that may have resulted from the same incident.

We defend clients in the courtrooms of King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County & Thurston County, including the cities of Tacoma, Seattle, Kent, Bellevue, Olympia, Puyallup & Lakewood, WA.

We can be called any day of the week (including after-hours) for a free consultation.