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What Is Wisconsin’s Law on Recklessly Endangering Safety?

In Wisconsin, it is illegal to engage in conduct that would put another person at risk of harm. This type of behavior is referred to as recklessly endangering safety, and it is a felony offense.

Acting Recklessly

To understand the type of actions prohibited under Wis. Stats. 941.30, it is helpful to understand what a reckless culpable state of mind is – a person's mindset when they were committing a crime.

In Wisconsin, to have a reckless state of mind means that the person:

  • Engaged in behavior that put someone else at risk of death or great bodily harm, and
  • Knew that risk existed

Recklessly Endangering Safety

Now that we've defined a reckless state of mind, let's look at the law concerning engaging in unsafe conduct.

There are two subsections of this law:

  • First-degree recklessly endangering safety: A person could be charged with this degree if they recklessly do something that endangers someone else, and their actions "show utter disregard of human life."
  • Second-degree recklessly endangering safety: This offense is distinguished from first-degree in that, while the actor puts another's safety at risk, they don't disregard human life.

Here's an example of recklessly endangering safety: A man and his aunt get into a heated argument at a family party. Emotions are high, and the aunt decides to leave the house. Unfortunately, her feelings get the best of her, and while she's walking down the sidewalk, she pulls out her gun and fires back toward the house.

Although no one was harmed, the aunt could still be charged under the recklessly endangering safety law because she could have seriously injured or killed one of the people at the party.

Additionally, even if her actions were accidental, she could still face penalties. For instance, say she and her nephew get into an argument, and one of them grabs a gun. They start wrestling with the firearm, and it discharges. This action is also a violation of the recklessly endangering safety statute.

What Are the Potential Conviction Penalties for Recklessly Endangering Safety?

If a person's found guilty of recklessly endangering safety, the punishments they could face depend on the degree with which they're charged.

First-degree recklessly endangering safety is a Class F felony. The potential conviction penalties include up to 12 years, 6 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

Because it doesn't involve showing utter disregard for another person's life, second-degree recklessly endangering safety is considered a lesser offense than first-degree. As such, it's charged as a Class G felony. Make no mistake: Although it's "less severe" than first-degree, it still carries with it harsh penalties. If a person is convicted, of this offense, they could be looking at a maximum of 10 years in prison. Additionally, they could be fined up to $25,000.

If you've been charged with recklessly endangering safety or any other crime in Milwaukee, contact the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella to put an experienced and skilled legal advocate on your side. We can be reached by phone at (414) 882-8382 or online.