A New York woman, Sarah Espinosa, 22, has been arrested for a rather odd offense after crashing her car while under the influence. That is unfortunately not particularly uncommon but she crashed her Prius into a firehouse while wearing a giant python around her neck. Beyond that curiosity, there is one aspect of her case that raises a question about redundant charging by prosecutors.
Espinosa is charged with stealing the snake from a local Petco and then later driving across a median, hitting another car, and then crashing into the New Hyde Park Fire House. In so doing, she damaged the garage and two engines.
She is charged with reckless endangerment, drug possession, DWI, petit larceny and reckless driving. My question is the redundancy of charging both reckless driving and reckless endangerment. The first would seem to subsume the second charge.
Here are two of the serious reckless endangerment provisions:
A person is guilty of reckless endangerment in the second degree when he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.
Reckless endangerment in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.
A person is guilty of reckless endangerment in the first degree when, under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life, he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person.
Reckless endangerment in the first degree is a class D felony.
Now here is the reckless driving provision:
1212. Reckless driving. Reckless driving shall mean driving or using any motor vehicle, motorcycle or any other vehicle propelled by any power other than muscular power or any appliance or accessory thereof in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway. Reckless driving is prohibited. Every person violating this provision shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Notably, this is a misdemeanor as opposed to the second endangerment provision that can be a felony. On top of that, she is also charged with Driving While Intoxicated. There seems considerable overlap and a degree of redundancy in such charges.
I would expect a plea on the case given the limited available defenses. Indeed, count stacking like this is often a way of forcing pleas. They are unlikely to drop the larceny charge but they can drop either the reckless driving or endangerment charges. There is also likely considerable financial damage to be folded into any plea agreement for the repair of the firehouse and the engines.