Endangerment is best defined as any conduct that is (1) reckless and (2) poses a danger to another person. Reckless conduct involves actions that fail to take into consideration the safety of those around or of those involved in the activity. Reckless is the opposite of cautious. The crime of endangerment requires proof of the following:
(1) The defendant disregarded a substantial risk that his or her conduct would cause [imminent death/physical injury], and
(2) The defendant’s conduct did in fact create a substantial risk of [imminent death/physical injury].1
For a person to be charged with endangerment, the law does not require that there be an actual victim (person harmed by the conduct). The Arizona Revised Statutes merely require that theconduct pose a potential risk of harm, meaning the conduct could have caused injury to another person. If the conduct causes a substantial risk of imminent death, (by placing the life of another in danger), the punishment for the endangerment becomes increasingly severe. Some examples of endangerment include: reckless speeding, drag racing, firing a gun into the air in a residential area, driving under the influence, etc. All such conduct shares a common trait, in that it creates a risk of accidental injury or harm to innocent bystanders and/or participants (i.e., a passenger in a vehicle being driven recklessly).
Endangerment in Arizona can be considered either a misdemeanor or a felony base on the severity of what happened. If the behavior that led to the charge put the person at a substantial risk of imminent death, then the case will be charged as a felony where the penalties can be significant depending on the person’s criminal record and the facts of the case. All other cases are considered a class 1 misdemeanor and are punishable by up to 6 months jail, large fines, and 3 years’ probation.