Endangerment Laws in Arizona
Acting recklessly and putting another person in danger can lead to criminal charges in Arizona. You will be committing the so-called endangerment and the consequences will depend on the severity of the crime. Endangerment laws in Arizona are explained in Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1201.
Arizona Laws and Endangerment
According to Arizona law, a person commits an act of endangerment whenever their reckless behavior puts somebody else at a substantial risk of death or physical injury.
Whenever the endangerment poses a substantial death risk, it is classified as a Class 6 felony. In all other instances, the commitment of this crime will lead to misdemeanor charges. Class 6 felonies come with a maximum prison sentence of two years. Whenever a person commits a Class 1 misdemeanor by endangering someone else, the maximum sentence will be six months in prison and a fine of up to 2,500 dollars.
Is it Possible to Commit Endangerment without Hurting Anyone?
As you can see from the definition of endangerment, the term is more or less vague and open to interpretation. In such instances, it’s very important to find out whether endangerment is committed in the absence of physical harm sustained by another person.
You can be charged with endangerment even when nobody is harmed as a result of your actions. The prosecution will have to prove that your reckless behavior posed a substantial risk to somebody else’s wellbeing.
Let’s say someone consumes alcohol and gets in a minor car crash. No passengers and drivers are hurt in either vehicle. The person that caused the accident will eventually be charged with endangerment because they put the passengers in both vehicles at a significant risk. Needless to say, the driver will also face DUI charges.
Driving under the influence is not the only situation in which a person may face criminal endangerment charges. Speeding can also be considered as endangerment. Firing a gun in the air is also exposing others to risk because the bullet will eventually have to come down.
Disregarding safety rules at a construction project or another process that could potentially be dangerous may also contribute to endangerment charges. These may also result from hospital malpractice, leaving children unattended and certain types of domestic abuse.
Assault and aggravated assault charges are almost always accompanied by charges under endangerment laws in Arizona.
Defenses Against Endangerment Charges
Endangerment is similar to all other criminal charges. The prosecutor will face the task of gathering enough evidence to show that you acted recklessly and that your behavior put somebody else at a substantial risk.
Your criminal defense attorney will have the exact opposite task. They could either address the evidence that the prosecution has collected or work on counter-evidence, establishing the innocence of the defendant in the situation.
Whenever a person acts to defend themselves against somebody else’s actions, they cannot be charged with endangerment.
An attorney could also talk to medical professionals and other expert witnesses for the purpose of proving that the actions of the defendant couldn’t have jeopardized the health and the wellbeing of the victim.
One more issue an attorney could address is the awareness and intention on behalf of the defendant. According to Arizona law, a person needs to have a good idea about the harm their actions could cause. If the actions weren’t intentional or reckless, the endangerment charges could be dropped.
A final option is challenging the procedures and the evidence gathering methods used by the prosecution. Whenever such processes violate the defendant’s civil rights, the attorney could either ask for the evidence to be dropped or for the case to be dismissed altogether.