Endangerment

“An act or an instance of putting someone or something in danger or exposure to peril or harm… involving conduct that is wrongful and reckless or wanton, and likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm to another person” (US Legal). Utah Law defines it as when a person “recklessly engages in conduct that creates a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another person.”

Example Sentence

By failing to not brake properly, as a semi-truck driver, Mr. Willis endangered all the other drivers on the road with his poor driving.

Case Study

In State of Utah v. Nagel, the State charged Mr. Nagel with reckless driving or endangerment. While driving in heavy traffic, he swerved in and out of traffic and crossed the dividing lines into oncoming traffic in order to pass people, and finished by pulling off the road, causing people to swerve around him. The court pointed out that it did not matter whether he intended to endanger anyone, his actions caused that result and he could have foreseen this.

Other Important Information

You will often hear this term as ‘reckless endangerment.’ In State of Utah v. Robinson, the court laid out that a jury must subjectively decide if the person was aware of the risk and if he consciously disregarded the risk. Then, the jury must objectively determine how substantial and unjustifiable the risk was (see also Utah Code). This act does not need to be intentional to be reckless, the person only has to act “in a way that showed a disregard for the foreseeable consequences of the actions” (US Legal). Also, “the risk must be of such a nature and degree that its disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint” (Utah Code). Someone could endanger another in many circumstances including “domestic cases, car accidents, construction site accidents, testing sites, domestic/child abuse situations, and hospital abuse” (US Legal). Utah enforces stricter penalties for endangering a child or vulnerable adult. Utah law gives a person a felony in the 3rd degree if he or she exposes a child or vulnerable adult to a “controlled substance, chemical substance, or drug paraphernalia.” It’s a 2nd degree felony if the child or vulnerable adult is hurt because of the reckless exposure and a 3rd degree felony if they die (Utah Code). Further, if someone’s reckless actions cause serious injury or death to a vulnerable adult, then they are guilty of a 3rd degree felony (Utah Code). If it causes non-serious injuries, then the act is a class B misdemeanor (Utah Code). Utah law also includes penalties for reckless burning.

Photo courtesy of Christensen & Hymas.

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