Illinois Reckless Conduct

The Law – 720 ILCS 5/12-5

A person commits Reckless Conduct when he or she, by any means lawful or unlawful, recklessly performs an act or acts that:

  1. Causes bodily harm to or endangers the safety of another person; or
  2. Causes great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to another person.

Another one of Illinois’ many “catch-all” crimes is Reckless Conduct. While “causing bodily harm” is seemingly less ambiguous, “endangering the safety” of an individual is subject to varying interpretations and arguments. While the act of driving a motor vehicle on a public sidewalk would most likely constitute reckless conduct because pedestrians are in harm’s way, other acts would be difficult for the state to use as a basis for Reckless Conduct.

In order for a person to be convicted for this offense, they must have acted recklessly. A person acts recklessly when he consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances exist or that a result will follow and such disregard is a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise.

Actions are not the only basis that could lead to a charge of Reckless Conduct. Some speech, putting aside First Amendment issues, may actually endanger the bodily safety of an individual. For instance, if an individual in a crowded theater yelled out “fire,” his actions and statement put the entire crowd at risk. This is because upon hearing “fire,” many people may attempt to rush to the exits, thereby causing a stampede which could result in some individuals becoming injured.

If any of the actions (or statements) causes great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement, then the punishment for Reckless Conduct increases. What would normally be a misdemeanor charge would then become a felony charge, thereby bringing with it the possibility of an increase in jail time and fines.

The Sentence

CLASS A MISDEMEANOR

  • Up to 364 days in jail
  • Fine of up to $2,500

CLASS 4 FELONY IF:

The conduct causes great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement to an individual.

  • 1 to 3 years in prison
  • Up to $25,000 fine

Probation Possible? Yes

Supervision Possible? Yes, on misdemeanor charge.

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