In September of 2004 at 9:45 p.m. a Mashpee police officer observed the defendant driving down Route 151. The officer knew that the defendant's license had been revoked and attempted to stop the vehicle he was driving. In an attempt to avoid apprehension the defendant drove thirty to thirty five miles per hour over the speed limit. The defendant continued his flight, driving his car over an embankment and two to three hundred yards into the woods. The vehicle was located unoccupied and a K-9 officer and his dog tracked the defendant further into the woods. The defendant was found lying on his back with his three year old child lying on his chest.
Among other things, the defendant was charged with violating G.L. c. 265 sec. 13L. The defendant proceeded with a jury waived trial and was convicted of reckless endangerment of a child. This law became effective in 2002. The defendant challenged its application to him under the circumstances of this case and its constitutionality on the grounds of vagueness.
In the context of this case G.L. c. 265 sec. 13L required that the prosecution prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant 1) wantonly or recklessly engages in conduct that 2) creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury. The constitutional challenge required the Supreme Judicial Court to resolve whether the statute provides a person of ordinary intelligence the opportunity to know what type of conduct is prohibited and whether the statute provides comprehensible standards that limit prosecutorial and judicial discretion. The Court held that this statute did in fact meet these requirements and the challenge was rejected. Commonwealth v. Hendricks, slip opinion 7/31/2008.
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