What Constitutes Reckless Conduct in Georgia?

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The Georgia Criminal Code establishes certain offenses as Reckless Conduct. If you face a reckless conduct charge, getting help from an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential to avoid potential jail time and a fine, as well as the broader negative consequences of having a criminal conviction on your record. At Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia, we vigorously defend against these charges.

Statutory Provisions for Reckless Conduct

The Reckless Conduct laws are found in O.C.G.A. §16-5-60 and O.C.G.A. §16-5-61. These provisions are completely different from disorderly conduct charges, which are governed by other statutes.

General Provisions Relating to Reckless Conduct or Endangerment

Section 16-5-60 is titled Reckless Conduct Causing Harm to or Endangering the Bodily Safety of Another; Conduct by HIV Infected Persons; Assault by HIV Infected Persons or Hepatitis Infected Persons. Subsection b defines the primary Reckless Conduct offense, which is charged as a misdemeanor. That subsection states:

A person who causes bodily harm to or endangers the bodily safety of another person by consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that his act or omission will cause harm or endanger the safety of the other person and the disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care which a reasonable person would exercise in the situation is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Based on these provisions, specific elements comprise the offense. Those elements are:

  1. The conduct caused bodily harm or endangered the bodily safety of another person.
  2. The person charged consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk of causing harm or endangering another person.
  3. The disregard amounts to a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the situation.

All three of the elements must be demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt for a prosecutor to prove reckless conduct or reckless endangerment under this law. Because the provisions are broad and fairly vague, the statutory definition provides substantial opportunity for your criminal defense attorney to challenge the evidence, regardless of the circumstances.

Provisions Relating to Persons Infected with HIV and Hepatitis

Subsections c and d of the statute contain other provisions relating to persons infected with HIV or hepatitis. A violation of either of these sections constitutes a felony.

Subsection c defines specific conduct by an HIV-infected or hepatitis-infected person that endangers another person. Subsection d defines conduct directed at a peace officer or correctional officer by a person knowingly infected with HIV or hepatitis.

Like the general provisions relating to reckless conduct or endangerment, these subsections contain broad language, providing ample opportunity for your criminal defense lawyer to challenge a charge under either subsection c or d.

Statutory Provisions Relating to Hazing

Section 16-5-61, which is part of the Reckless Conduct chapter in the Georgia Code, establishes the offense of hazing as a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. Subsection c states that it is unlawful for anyone “to haze any student in connection with or as a condition or precondition of gaining acceptance, membership, office, or other status in a school organization.”

Subsection a of the law defines hazing as subjecting a student “to an activity which endangers or is likely to endanger the physical health of a student or coerces the student through the use of social or physical pressure to consume any food, liquid, alcohol, drug, or other substance which subjects the student to a likely risk of vomiting, intoxication, or unconsciousness regardless of a student's willingness to participate in such activity.”

Under the statute, an important element of this offense is that the conduct either endangers or is likely to endanger the physical health of the student. That requirement is the reason the offense is included in the Reckless Conduct chapter. The definition of the offense and of the nature of the conduct provide opportunities for your criminal defense attorney to challenge a hazing charge under these provisions.

Defending Against a Reckless Conduct Charge

Reckless conduct charges may occur when a person acts without thinking about what they are doing, realizing how their actions may affect other people, or even considering that their actions might be illegal. Even so, it is not a defense that the person charged did not expect or intend to hurt someone else or that no one was injured. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney has other strategies to defend against a reckless conduct charge, especially because the applicable statutory provisions are broad.

A criminal conviction on your record can have negative consequences, even beyond the criminal penalties that accompany the conviction. If you face any type of reckless conduct or reckless endangerment charge, talking with a lawyer is strongly recommended.

Schedule a Consultation with a Georgia Reckless Conduct Defense Attorney

If you face a reckless conduct charge in Georgia, an aggressive defense strategy is essential. At The McCoy Law Firm, LLC, our extensive criminal defense experience includes handling reckless conduct cases involving many different types of situations. We review your circumstances, identify the best defenses and strategy for your case, and protect your rights throughout the criminal process.

Based in Cartersville, we serve clients throughout Bartow County, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Gordon County, Floyd County, and Paulding County. We welcome you to call (770) 382-0984 or to contact Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia online to schedule an appointment.

Categories: Criminal Defense