Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Plymouth
December 7, 2015
Complaint received and sworn to in the Plymouth Division of
the District Court Department on August 20, 2013.
motion to dismiss was heard by Kathryn E. Hand, J.
Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the
case from the Appeals Court.
Vanessa L. Madge, Assistant District Attorney, for the
B. Ganguly for the defendant.
Chauncey B. Wood, J. Anthony Downs, Todd Marabella, &
Kara Harrington, for Massachusetts Association of Criminal
Defense Lawyers, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.
Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, &
N.E.3d 20] Spina, J.
this case we are asked to decide whether the words "
wantonly or recklessly" in G. L. c. 265, § 13L, the
statute proscribing reckless endangerment of a child, require
proof of a defendant's subjective state of
mind. On August 20, 2013, a two-count
complaint issued against the defendant from the Plymouth
Division of the District Court Department, accusing him of
walking on railroad tracks, in violation of G. L. c. 160,
§ 218, and reckless endangerment of a child by walking
on railroad tracks with a child, in violation of G. L. c.
265, § 13L. The defendant filed a pretrial motion to
dismiss the count charging him with reckless endangerment. A
judge in the District Court ruled that the Commonwealth was
required to establish that the defendant actually was aware
of the substantial risk of serious bodily injury to which he
exposed his child, and that the evidence offered in support
of the application for the criminal complaint failed to
demonstrate probable cause to believe that [46 N.E.3d 21] the
defendant, who was heavily intoxicated at the relevant time,
had the mental state required to support the charge. The
judge dismissed the count of reckless endangerment.
appeal the Commonwealth argues that § 13L does not
require proof of a defendant's subjective state of mind,
but that, even if it did, sufficient evidence was presented
in the application for the criminal complaint to establish
probable cause to believe that the defendant had the
requisite mental state. We transferred the appeal to this
court on our own motion, and now hold that the judge
correctly stated the law, but ...