If you have a criminal conviction on your record for recklessly endangering another person, or if you're currently facing charges, there can be serious consequences. Aside from possible jail time or fines, having a criminal record can cause long-term problems with your education or career. Recklessly endangering someone doesn't sound like a serious crime, but a conviction can be a second-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. Even with a misdemeanor conviction, you will have a criminal record and can face restrictions on the jobs you can obtain.
Pennsylvania law does have some options to clean up a criminal record if you meet the qualifications, complete your sentence, and wait the appropriate amount of time. In some cases, you can seal or expunge your record. While expunging or removing your records altogether is a more thorough option, not everyone qualifies to expunge criminal records, whether because of past convictions or the seriousness of the convictions. In those cases, you may be able to seal your criminal record from public view instead.
Pennsylvania Statute for Recklessly Endangering Another Person
Pennsylvania's law regarding recklessly endangering another person is deceptively simple. The statute states, “A person commits a misdemeanor of the second degree if he recklessly engages in conduct which places or may place another person in danger of death or serious bodily injury.” 18 Pa. Stat. § 2705 (1972).
- Acting Recklessly Under Pennsylvania law, someone acts “recklessly” if they “consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the material element exists or will result from [their] conduct.” The risk must be serious enough that their disregard for the circumstances “involves a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the actor's situation.” 18 Pa. Stat. § 302(3).
- Serious Bodily Injury Under Pennsylvania law, serious bodily injury is an injury that “creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.” 18 Pa. Stat. § 2602. To be convicted of recklessly endangering another person, the risk of bodily injury must rise to the level of serious or substantial.
Misdemeanor Charges for Recklessly Endangering Another Person
While a misdemeanor carries penalties that are less severe than a felony, a conviction for recklessly endangering another person will still result in a criminal record.
- Second-degree Misdemeanor: Recklessly endangering another person is a second-degree misdemeanor. A conviction in Pennsylvania can result in a fine of $5,000 and one to two years in prison.
Fortunately, you can seal many misdemeanors in Pennsylvania under one of two legislative options. If you meet the statutory requirements, you can use Pennsylvania's Clean Slate legislation to seal your record. Under the new Clean Slate law, the state will automatically seal your record in some situations. But even if you don't qualify for automatic sealing, you may still be able to use Pennsylvania's Act 5 to limit access to your court and arrest records after filing a petition with the court. To explore the best option for your case, you'll need an experienced sealing attorney to help you through the process.
Sealing Your Record Through Clean Slate
Pennsylvania's Clean Slate records law was ground-breaking legislation passed in 2019. Under the new law, the state courts will automatically seal some criminal records ten years after you complete your sentence and pay your fines. However, to qualify, you must meet the statutory requirements. The state will automatically seal your records under Clean Slate:
- You only have a summary conviction, which is less serious than a misdemeanor,
- You don't have a conviction for a charge because the charges were dismissed or the court found you not guilty,
- Your conviction was only for a second-degree or third-degree misdemeanor,
- Your conviction for the misdemeanor charge was only punishable by two years or less in prison.
Sealing Your Record with an Act 5 Petition
Pennsylvania's Act 5 law varies from Clean Slate because it doesn't happen automatically. To seal your record under Act 5, you must petition the court. However, Act 5 sealing applied to a wider range of convictions, allowing more people to access this sealing path.
Under Act 5, you can seal misdemeanors and other ungraded offenses punishable by five years or less in prison, a much wider range than Clean Slate's limitation of two years in prison. To qualify for Act 5 sealing, you'll need to wait ten years after completing your sentence and paying all your fines. You also can't have any arrests or prosecutions for any other crime punishable by a year or more in jail.
While most convictions for recklessly endangering another person are misdemeanors, it's important to note that you cannot seal or expunge a felony charge in Pennsylvania except in some very specific situations. For example, if you receive a Governor's pardon, you can then apply to expunge your record. If you have a felony conviction, in addition to a misdemeanor conviction for recklessly endangering another person, you'll need to consult an experienced attorney to explore your options for expungement and sealing.
You Need an Experienced Pennsylvania Sealing Attorney
While sealing your criminal and arrest records seems like it should be easy to accomplish in Pennsylvania, it's actually a complicated procedure for many people. To ensure that you can seal your records as soon as possible, or to see what your options may be for automatic sealing or petitioning the court, you need an experienced Pennsylvania expungement and sealing attorney guiding you through the process. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his skilled team at the Lento Law Firm, have been helping Pennsylvanians clean up their criminal records for years. Find out how they can help you too. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888.535.3686 to schedule a consultation, or contact them online today.