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Understanding the impacts a gross misdemeanor could have

When drivers in New York face driving violations, they often assume that these lesser charges will not significantly impact them. While a speeding infraction could result in just a warning or a citation that carries just a fine, other traffic violations could result in a driver facing more serious criminal charges. In fact, depending on the circumstances surrounding the traffic stop, a driver could be charged with a misdemeanor.

In New York, a driver could face a charge for reckless endangerment. According to New York Penal Law Section 120.20, reckless endangerment in the second degree occurs when a driver recklessly engages in conduct that creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person. In this state, reckless endangerment in the second degree is considered a Class A misdemeanor, which is a gross misdemeanor.

A gross misdemeanor is considered a serious misdemeanor and could carry harsh penalties, such as fines and incarceration similar to those given for a felony. Unlike a petty misdemeanor, which usually carries a jail sentence of less than six months and a fine of $500 or less, gross misdemeanors sometimes allow for more significant punishment. Those accused of a misdemeanor should not treat such a criminal charge like a less serious charge.

Like any criminal charge, those facing a misdemeanor should understand they have the right to assert a criminal defense against the charge or charges they face. Making an aggressive defense against a criminal charge could help the accused reduce or even dismiss the penalties against them. Additionally, this could help the defendant avoid the impacts it could have on their personal and professional life.

Source: Ypdcrime.com, "S 120.20 Reckless endangerment in the second degree," accessed Feb. 29, 2016

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