Endangerment Criminal Defense
At Kent Law Firm, led by experienced attorney Shaun Kent, we’re well-versed in endangerment laws and provide a robust defense against endangerment charges. We'll stand by your side, defend your rights, and guide you through the complexities of these cases.
Understanding Reckless Endangerment
Reckless endangerment, in the eyes of the law, involves a conscious disregard for the safety of others. It means someone got hurt or was almost hurt because of what another person did. The risk they created was really serious, like something that could cause great harm or even death. And the person who did it knew about the risk.
It differs from negligence, which generally refers to a failure to exercise reasonable care. Recklessness implies a deliberate choice to act in a way that creates a substantial risk of harm.
Recklessness isn’t the same as wanting to hurt someone. However, the law is clear: even if you didn’t intend to hurt anyone, you can still be held accountable if you ignore the risks of what you’re doing.
(According to South Carolina Code Section 56-5-2920)
Reckless driving involves operating a vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. It includes actions such as:
- Excessive Speeding: Driving significantly over the speed limit.
- Aggressive Maneuvers: Swerving between lanes, tailgating, or other aggressive driving behaviors.
- Running Red Lights: Disobeying traffic signals or stop signs.
- Drunk or Drugged Driving: Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Distracted Driving: Using a phone or engaging in activities that divert attention from driving.
Child endangerment laws in South Carolina pertain to situations where a child is placed in imminent danger from a parent or guardian’s reckless behavior, such as reckless driving. If a minor is a passenger in a vehicle driven recklessly, the driver may face child endangerment charges in addition to reckless driving charges.
Unlike some other states, South Carolina’s state law allows only one child endangerment charge, even if there are several children in the car.
Child endangerment happens when someone who is eighteen or older is driving with one or more passengers under sixteen and breaks these laws:
- They don’t stop when a police car signals them to.
- Drives while drunk or on drugs.
- Drives with an unlawful amount of alcohol in their system.
- Commits a serious DUI offense that causes “great bodily injury.”
The child endangerment law adds more punishments to what someone will get for the DUI charge.
The penalties for reckless driving and child endangerment can be severe. On a first reckless driving offense, someone might get up to 30 days in jail, up to $200 in fines, and a demerit of 6 points on their record.
If a person gets convicted of reckless driving again, their driver’s license will be suspended for 3 months automatically. Getting three convictions within three years will result in being called a habitual offender and having your license taken away, on top of the penalties for a first offense.
When someone is found guilty of a DUI or trying to escape from the police while a child is in the car, the punishments for a child endangerment conviction can be added on. This means they not only deal with the penalties for the original crime, like a DUI, but they might also have to deal with:
- A fine that’s no more than half that of the original charge, like a DUI.
- A prison term that’s no more than half of the original charge.
- Having their driver’s license taken away for 60 days.
- Child endangerment charges can also affect child custody and visitation rights.
In these situations, a child endangerment conviction can lead to longer prison sentences and larger fines unless you have a strong legal defense.