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Offenses Against The Person

Reckless Conduct

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The following is not legal advice but is for information only. Legal advice is when an attorney applies the law to a person's individual circumstances and advises them on their legal options or potential exposure to legal harm, which a web page clearly does not.

 

The offense of reckless conduct is brief in statute and is one of Maine's laws that can best be described as constitutionally problematic for failing to give sufficient notice to the public about prohibited behavior because it is so vague. Here it can be quoted in its entirety: "[a] person is guilty of reckless conduct if he recklessly creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to another person."  That's it.

In statute acting recklessly means acting by consciously disregarding a risk that a particular result will happen - the result being the substantial risk created. That 'disregard' must be a gross deviation from the standard that a fictional 'reasonable and prudent person' would see in the same situation. A common example used to define 'reckless' in a criminal law context is swinging around a baseball bat with people around. Someone may not get hit, but the person with the bat created a risk and disregarded the fact that other people were there.

Reckless conduct is normally a class D misdemeanor, which has a maximum penalty of 364 days imprisonment (jail is less than nine months and prison if more than nine months) and a maximum fine of $2,000. There is no mandatory minimum penalty for a first offense simple reckless conduct.

This can also be charged as a domestic violence (DV) reckless conduct, which has the same penalty for a first offense but would have consequences down the road if there are other DV-related offenses in the future. In that instance, reckless conduct can be charged as a class C felony, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and a maximum fine of $5,000.

Reckless conduct is often a charge that is used as an alternative offense to other charges in a plea deal because of the absence of mandatory minimum sentences.

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