Almost everyone in Happy Valley is tired of the wintry weather and the shoveling of snow, but I do not recommend that people become overly creative in their snow removal efforts. A man in Fargo, North Dakota, acted like Tim Taylor from the 1990's show Home Improvement and used a flame thrower to clear the snow from the driveway. While the use of the highly flammable device was probably quite enjoyable for the man when compared to shoveling or pushing a snow blower, not all neighborhood men were as impressed with the ingenuity. One of the man's neighbors called the police, and the man was charged with reckless endangerment.
Reckless Endangerment in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, the equivalent charge is called Recklessly Endangering Another Person, 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2705, and the law prohibits a person from engaging in conduct which places or may place another person in danger of death or serious bodily injury. Some people mistakenly believe that an actual injury must occur in order to be charged with reckless endangerment. Instead, the actions must only place a person in danger of such an injury. A person is generally charged with Aggravated Assault if a serious bodily injury occurred. A Pennsylvania charge of Aggravated Assault is a felony charge that subjects a person to very severe penalties.
I often see charges of Recklessly Endangering Another Person in situations where a hunter does not pay attention to his or her surroundings, shoots at an animal, and the bullet goes into a nearby home. I have heard of Centre County reckless endangerment cases in which bullets have struck refrigerators or other kitchen appliances while family members were eating a meal at a nearby table. Clearly, shooting a gun into a house occupied by people is an activity that places a person in danger of death or serious bodily injury. A charge of reckless endangerment is a second degree felony and carries a maximum sentence of 2 years incarceration and a $5,000.00 fine.
No Misdemeanor Expungement in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, misdemeanor convictions cannot be expunged from a person's criminal record. There has been legislation that has been proposed in Pennsylvania to permit expungement of some misdemeanor charges, but to date, those proposals have not been passed or signed by the governor. Therefore, a misdemeanor or felony conviction remains on a person's record forever. The only option for such a person is to seek a pardon and thereby have the conviction set aside. If a person is able to obtain a pardon, then the person can seek an expungement to have the government records of the incident destroyed. I represented a client that was able to receive a pardon in a Clearfield County Simple Assault case, and I was hired to draft and file an expungement petition. The expungement was ultimately granted by the judge, so the records of the charges have been removed from the government records.