Criminal cases in Chester County are filed and recorded by the Clerk of Courts Office. These matters are then heard in the County Court of Common Pleas. In 2017, there were a total of 4,430 new adult criminal cases filed in addition to hundreds of juvenile cases.
What is Reckless Endangerment of Another Person (REAP)?
REAP is a charge classified as a misdemeanor criminal offense of the second-degree. It may occur when an individual's reckless conduct puts or may put someone in danger of severe bodily injury or death. Put another way, courts in Pennsylvania have summarized the offense as placing another person at “risk to life or limb out of proportion to any utility the conduct may have.” The penalties imposed may include up to two years in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
Sufficiency of Evidence
The defense may challenge the sufficiency of the evidence. The court must determine that the evidence, when viewed in favor of the plaintiff, is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In a trial, the jury must be aware that the plaintiff does not need to rule out “every possibility of innocence.” The jury may believe “all, part, or none” of the evidence.
Common Examples of Actions Leading to REAP Charges
- Firing a gun when others are nearby
- Is often related to a charge of simple or aggravated assault
- May be associated with a DUI charge that led to a severe injury or fatality
Aside from the penalties that may be imposed for a second-degree misdemeanor, there is another potential longer-term problem. Having a criminal offense on your record may have adverse consequences when you are subject to background screening. Potential employers and landlords are examples of those who may not react well, particularly when the charges involve terms such as “reckless” or “endangerment.” This may also pose a problem for those whose profession requires some type of licensing.
Having Offense Expunged
Many types of criminal cases may ultimately be expunged at some point later in time. This is a process that must be completed by the court that essentially removes the offense from your criminal record. A “full” expungement may only occur in Pennsylvania in three ways:
- Acceptance into a diversionary program such as Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) when you are originally facing the criminal charges
- If you reach the age of 70 years old and have no prior convictions for a ten-year period
- Three years after your death
Aside from a “full” expungement, you may more easily qualify for a “partial” or “limited” expungement that prevents employers from viewing the charges. Here, members of law enforcement or the court may still recognize the charge. You will want to discuss this process with an experienced criminal defense attorney regarding your individual circumstances relating to expungement.
Benefits of Experienced Legal Representation
As we have outlined, convictions such as REAP offenses may have short and long-term ramifications. It is important to retain an attorney who is familiar with defending criminal cases in Pennsylvania. Your attorney may find that certain evidence may not be admissible, or engage the prosecutor regarding a reduction in the charges.
Chester County Criminal Defense Attorney
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has spent years defending clients facing criminal allegations that may lead to harsh penalties. We encourage you to contact the office today for a complimentary consultation at (888) 535-3686.