Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines for Reckless Endangerment

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In the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, recklessly endangering another person (REAP) is a second-degree misdemeanor. Reckless endangerment is defined as recklessly engaging in conduct that places, or may place, another person in danger of death or serious bodily injury.

Serious bodily injury is an injury that creates a substantial risk of death; causes serious, permanent disfigurement; or a lasting loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, like an arm or an organ. A person who faces reckless endangerment charges can face up to two years incarceration and a fine up to $5,000.

Simple Assault in Pennsylvania

Simple assault involves attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury upon another person. Bodily injury is defined in the law as an impairment of physical condition or substantial pain. Pennsylvania provides that simple assault can also involve:

  • Negligently causing bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon.
  • Attempting by physical menace to put another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
  • Person charged was concealing or attempting to conceal a hypodermic needle on their body and intentionally or knowingly penetrated a law enforcement officer or an officer or an employee of a correctional institution, county jail or prison, detention facility or mental hospital during the course of an arrest or any search of the person.

Deadly Weapon in Pennsylvania

A deadly weapon is defined as a loaded or unloaded firearm, or another device capable of causing death or serious bodily injury. Physical menace is defined as an act that physically threatens an individual. In other states, assault is defined as attempting to hurt someone or put them in fear.

Criminal Charges of Battery and Assault

Battery in Pennsylvania is defined as an act that involves one person committing an unwanted touching of another. In Pennsylvania, assault incorporates the touching; the statute does not list battery as a distinct offense in its statutes.

Simple and Aggravated Assault Charges

Aggravated assault is distinguished from simple assault in that aggravated assault involves an intent or act to cause serious bodily injury, rather than bodily injury. Simple assault is a second-degree misdemeanor with the same penalties as recklessly endangering another person.

The exception is that simple assault is a misdemeanor of the second degree if the assault is committed:

  • In a fight or scuffle entered into by mutual consent, in which case it is a third-degree misdemeanor.
  • Against a child under 12 by an adult 21 years of age or older, in which case it is a first-degree misdemeanor.

The penalty for a third-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania is up to one-year incarceration and a fine up to $2,000. The penalty for a first-degree misdemeanor is up to five years incarceration and a fine up to $10,000.

How REAP Charges Are Distinguished

The charge of recklessly endangering another person (REAP) involves acting recklessly, or without regard to danger or the consequences of one’s actions. Examples of reckless behavior include:

  • Persons on a bicycle weaving in and out of fast stop and go traffic.
  • Persons helping one another cross a culvert containing sharp debris.
  • Persons working together to launch full water bottles at moving vehicles.

A prosecutor can charge a person who engages in REAP with an additional offense, such as a traffic violation. REAP is distinguished from simple assault in that simple assault involves the offender attempting to cause, or actually causing, bodily injury to the other.

For example, in the situation involving water bottles, simple assault would involve the first person intentionally launching a full water bottle at their partner. REAP involves the two individuals launching the water bottles at a passing car.

Legal Advice From a Criminal Defense Lawyer

A criminal defense attorney can help the defendant better understand the difference between the two charges. Legal counsel can also be available for consultations, if the defendant wants to represent themselves.

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