In the state of New York, there is a special set of laws that are in place specifically to protect individuals who are the most vulnerable. Many of those laws focus on protecting children in particular, but there are also those to protect people who are incompetent or physically disabled. As per the New York Penal Law 260.25, you can be charged with and prosecuted for endangering the welfare of an incompetent individual or a person who is physically disabled in the first degree if you knowingly partake in a type of conduct that is likely to injury them physically, mentally or morally. This is because a person who falls under those two categories are vulnerable and are unable to care for himself or herself due to a mental disease or defect or physical ability.
Difference Between First and Second Degree Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person
However, it is important to know the difference between the degrees of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled individual. The second degree charge comes as a result of the individual behaving in a reckless manner, while the charge in the first degree means that the person knew that their conduct was reckless.
Example of Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree
An example of the crime of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person in the first degree is a woman was injured in a serious car wreck that left her a quadriplegic. After her paralysis, the woman began to suffer from a few medical issues and needs medication to stabilize her condition. She has a caretaker who feels badly for her and feels that her client would be better off dead than live in such a horrible state. As a result of that, the caretaker began withholding some of the medication her client relies on. However, the woman’s daughter noticed that her mother’s health was quickly deteriorating. She promptly rushes her mother to the hospital and doctors then discover that she has not been given some of her medications. The caretaker could then be charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person in the first degree as a result because she knew that not giving the woman all of her medication would cause her physical harm.
Possible Defenses for Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree
According to this statute, the only way you can be convicted of the crime of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person in the first degree is if you acted in a knowing manner. That means that if you did not know you were behaving recklessly to the point that you were endangering the individual, your NYC criminal attorney could argue that point and get your charges reduced. As per New York penal law 15.05(2), you must act knowingly that your actions would cause harm to an imcompetent or physically disabled person. In other words, if your behavior was accidental because you were unaware of potential harm, you would not be charged with this crime.
Penalties and Sentences for Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree
The crime of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person in the first degree is considered as a class E felony. Penalties for the crime, if you are convicted, include as much as four years in prison, probation for five years and a fine.
New York Penal Law 260.32: Endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person, or an incompetent or physically disabled person in the second degree
Due to the special protections that have been put into place in order to protect the especially vulnerable in New York, a person can be held liable for the mistreatment of any elderly or physically disabled people that have been put into their care.
In order for someone to be charged with endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person, or an incompetent or physically disabled person in the second degree, it must be proven that a caregiver either intended to cause the person in their care physical injury, recklessly caused the person in their care physical injury, caused a person physical injury with a deadly weapon as a result of negligence, or subjected the person in their care to sexual conduct.
Example of Endangering the Welfare of a Vulnerable Person in the Second Degree
One of the most straightforward examples of endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person, or an incompetent or physically disabled person in the second degree, is when a caregiver does not provide adequate nutrition to the person in their care. There have been plenty of cases in the past in which a vulnerable person was either denied food or their medication by their caregiver.
Similarly, if a vulnerable person is abused sexually by their caregiver, then this would also qualify as endangering their welfare in the second degree. In general, this statute is designed to protect people from being abused or otherwise mistreated by their caregiver.
Defending Against Endangering the Welfare of a Vulnerable Person in the Second Degree
In order for someone to be convicted of endangering a vulnerable person’s welfare in the second degree, the prosecutor must be able to prove that the defendant’s actions were either intentional or reckless. The New York Penal Law defines reckless behavior as any behavior that could be understood to potentially result in physical harm. If the defendant understood that their behavior could result in someone being hurt, and chose to act in that manner anyway, then they could be said to have acted recklessly.
On the other hand, a NYC criminal lawyer can be helpful in proving that a caregiver did not actually behave recklessly, and that any harm sustained by the vulnerable person was outside the bounds of reasonable expectations. In this case, the statute would not apply, as the caregiver did not behave either intentionally or recklessly.
Sentencing for Endangering the Welfare of a Vulnerable Person in the Second Degree
Endangering the welfare of a vulnerable person in the second degree is considered to be a class E felony, which means that someone convicted of the charge could potentially face up to four years of prison time. Aside from a lengthy prison sentence, those convicted of endangering the welfare of a vulnerable person in the second degree could also potentially be forced to spend up to five years on probation. Finally, someone convicted of this charge could also be forced to pay a sizeable fine.
Given the range of consequences associated with endangering the welfare of a vulnerable person in the second degree, it’s worth contacting a reliable legal representative to handle these charges. Since it is up to the prosecutor to prove that the caregiver acted either intentionally or recklessly, this provides considerable opportunities for the defense to instead prove that their actions were possibly justified or at least unintentional.
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