Rapper and singer Chris Brown, equally known for his crooning as he is for his felony assault plea for punching Rihanna, allegedly freaked out and smashed a window at Good Morning America’s Time Square studio in Manhattan. According to at least one report, Brown is alleged to have flipped out in New York City after he was questioned about the past incident with Rhianna by a GMA interviewer. He then allegedly smashed a window with a chair. Shards of glass from the broken window fell dozens of stories to the New York City street below. Adding a little more drama to the alleged incident, Brown allegedly stormed off the set, confronted a producer and took off his shirt (its merely in the mid 40s in New York today so one must assume taking off the shirt was for effect).
Assuming the above allegations are true, what, if any criminal charges could Chris Brown face for breaking a glass window at the GMA studio and getting “in the face” of an ABC producer?
Criminal Mischief: New York Penal Law 145.00 can be described as a property damage statute. If you have no grounds to believe you have the right to damage another person’s property, but intentionally do so anyway, then you are guilty of this crime. In other words, you cannot merely smash an ABC studio window because you feel like it. Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree is punishable by up to one year in jail. In the event the cost of the damage to the window exceeds $250, then the charge would be Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree pursuant to New York Penal Law section 145.05. This offense is an “E” felony punishable by up to four years in state prison. If Brown is deemed a predicate felon for his felony assault conviction in California, then there is a mandatory term of incarceration of one and a half to three years in state prison.
Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree: While less likely, New York Penal Law 120.20 sets forth the misdemeanor offense or Reckless Endangerment. If Brown’s actions were so reckless in nature that the shards of glass that fell from the 43rd floor of ABC’s Manhattan office caused a “substantial risk of serious physical injury,” then this charge is appropriate. Certainly his actions were not intentional, ie, he did not intend to have shards of glass fall on pedestrians below, but they appear to have been at least reckless if the allegations are true. The second prong, however, is whether or not those shards of glass could have caused serious physical injury? Questions prosecutors might as include how big the glass pieces were, how many (approximately) fell, where pedestrians below at the time and what was the injury risk to them? “Serious physical injury” is not merely a scratch, but was there a substantial risk (not just a slight risk), for example, that the glass could have caused blindness or a gaping wound?
As far as the alleged stare down with a producer, there are not likely any charges that would be brought unless Brown did more than stare or yell. Did he threaten the producer with violence? Did he menace him with an object? Without knowing more it appears that there is no real crime even if true.
Whether or not ABC presses charges against Brown is yet to be seen. While they may not do so, Brown still has a major issue to contend with. While Brown may not have wanted to answer any questions about assaulting Rhianna, his probation officer in California may have a few questions for him to answer about his alleged behavior in New York.
For extensive information on the crimes of Criminal Mischief as well as the crime of Reckless Endangerment, please follow the highlighted links. Additional information on these crimes can be found with a search of the New York Criminal Lawyer Blog which contains information on criminal statutes, legal decisions and cases in the news.
Crotty Saland PC is a New York criminal defense firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors.
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