The Reckless Endangerment statute in Colorado is very broad. This means that the definition is not specific, and many different forms of conduct can be found to be criminal in nature. Broad criminal statutes such as this give a jury a lot of discretion to determine whether a specific act amounts to Reckless Endangerment.
The statute says that a person is guilty when they engage in reckless conduct that creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury. Just as a jury has wide latitude to decide if the defendant’s actions amounted to guilt, the prosecutor likewise has enormous discretion in determining whether to file this criminal charge.
The approach that must be taken by criminal defense attorneys when fighting a broadly defined charge like this at trial is to break it into smaller questions. For example, was the conduct reckless, regardless of whether it created a risk of injury? Under Colorado law, this means did the defendant “willfully disregard a substantial risk?”
Another challenge to this charge might be to question whether the risk was indeed “substantial.” For example, if someone celebrates the Fourth of July by firing a gun into the air, is there really a substantial risk, or is it a very slight risk, that someone will be struck by the bullet? Naturally, other facts might come into play, such as whether the shooter was in a crowded urban environment, or whether they were out in the forest.
Lastly, was the injury that was risked “serious bodily injury?” Serious bodily injury, or SBI, has a very specific definition in Colorado. Thus, even assuming that the defendant acted with recklessness, and created a substantial risk, the defendant should be found not guilty if serious bodily injury was not a reasonably possible outcome.
As with any criminal charge, you want to keep it off your record if you can. If you must take a conviction, you of course want to stay out of jail or prison. Please feel welcome to call our office for a consultation if you are facing Reckless Endangerment charges in the Denver area.