In California, Vehicle Code 20001 VC is the law defining felony hit and runs, or the specific criminal offense involving bodily injury. Pursuant to the law, an offender who decides to leave the scene of the accident (wherein the accident victim sustained a serious injury or died) will likely face such a criminal charge and, eventually, a felony conviction.
If the car accident only caused damage to personal property, then the prosecution can only file a misdemeanor charge. However, if the hit and run caused great bodily harm to those involved in the car accident, the prosecutor shall file a felony charge which is a more serious offense.
If the criminal conviction is recorded under misdemeanors, it is punishable by costly fines, penalties, or even imprisonment in county jail meanwhile, criminal offenses that lead to a felony conviction often entail fines and state jail imprisonment as punishment.
Regardless of specific factors, sufficient evidence is necessary to prosecute an individual. Criminal defense attorneys will be helpful in gathering pieces of evidence to prove the following:
- the defendant was involved in an accident;
- the vehicular accident caused serious injuries or death to another;
- and if the defendant is fully aware of the accident, knowingly and willfully neglected his or her responsibilities as a motorist and fled the scene of the accident without seeking help from police officers, leaving the victims behind.
There are also possible defenses that may be used if you have been falsely accused to have been involved in these types of criminal cases. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will help you throughout the criminal trial.
Defendants are only guilty of violating criminal laws under felony if there is physical harm or fatality involved. The injuries must be proven to be caused by a car accident or a car crash in question. Such is necessary to prove that the defendant is guilty. Keep in mind, however, that if the accident caused property damage to another vehicle (even if there was no serious bodily injury involved), the defendant may still be sentenced with punishment for a misdemeanor charge.
In some criminal cases involving hit and run, motorists are unable to pull over if there is no safe place to stop their vehicle. It may also depend on the situation of the defendant. He or she may be transporting someone who needs emergency care, and in this case, there would be no time to pull over. This may convince the district attorney to reduce the sentence of the defendant.
A collision happens quickly. If the driver who is at fault fled the scene immediately, then it will be difficult to identify him or her. Hit and run charges may be dismissed if there is not sufficient evidence to prove that the defendant charged with a crime was the one who is driving the vehicle.
Take note that there are also other related criminal charges: misdemeanor hit and run, driving under the influence, and vehicular manslaughter. All are punished accordingly and can be aggravated based on the circumstance, severity, presence of negligence, or if the accident caused bodily harm or death.
Never take lightly anything that is charged against you. Convictions should be avoided at all costs because these may be on your criminal record for a very long time. Consulting a criminal attorney who is knowledgeable about criminal defense law is important for you to protect your legal rights. If you have been charged with these, it is highly advisable to seek help from a criminal defense attorney who can defend you. Call us at the Law Offices of Marc Grossman for a free consultation.