A Louisville man has been arrested after allegedly threatening his pregnant girlfriend and her family with a loaded gun. According to reports, 27-year-old Hatim Mohamed choked this girlfriend, threw her against a wall, and pointed a gun at her during an argument. He also threatened her mother and four children, who were home at the time of the incident.

He attempted to hide the gun before police arrived, but was unsuccessful. Mohamed has been charged with several counts of wanton endangerment.

What is Wanton Endangerment?

You can face criminal charges for wanton endangerment when you “wantonly engage in conduct” that creates a serious risk of injury or death. To understand what this means, we need to know what “wanton” conduct is.

Kentucky law defines wanton to mean acting while you are “aware of and consciously disregard a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or the circumstances exist.” The behavior must be a “gross deviation from the standard of conduct” of a reasonable person.

Wanton conduct is not that much different from recklessness. You engage in behavior without justification, knowing that the consequences could very possibly cause someone to be injured or killed.

First Degree vs. Second Degree Wanton Endangerment

Crimes of wanton endangerment are categorized as first-degree or second-degree offenses. The charge depends on the circumstances surrounding the wanton behavior.

First-degree wanton endangerment, defined in KRS 508.060, occurs when “under the circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life” you “engage in conduct which creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person.”

Second-degree wanton endangerment, defined in KRS 508.070, occurs when wanton conduct “creates a substantial risk of physical injury to another person.”

So, more serious offenses are charged as first-degree wanton endangerment.

Is Wanton Endangerment a Misdemeanor or a Felony?

It depends on the charge.

First-degree wanton endangerment is a Class D Felony. If convicted, you can be sentenced to between one and five years in a Kentucky state prison.

Second-degree wanton endangerment is a Class A Misdemeanor. If convicted, you can be sentenced to between 90 days and 12 months in a Jefferson County jail.

In addition to time behind bars, you can be required to pay fines, complete probation, perform community service, and seek counseling. A conviction means that you’ll also have a criminal record. This can affect your ability to secure a job, find a place to live, or even qualify for government benefits.

Defending Wanton Endangerment Charges in Louisville

Wanton endangerment is a serious crime. A strong defense can be critical. It’s important to raise all legitimate defenses, which might include:

  • Mistaken identity
  • False accusation
  • There was no threat to another person’s safety or wellbeing
  • Self-defense, or
  • Violations of your Constitutional rights.

It can help to have an experienced Louisville criminal defense attorney handle your case. Your lawyer will know which defenses work best for your case and how to fight to get you the best possible outcome. Don’t hesitate to ask for help when your future is on the line.