Hit-and-run cases are grave traffic offenses in California. Simply put, a hit-and-run accident is a crime where there was a person injured or property damaged, and the offender chooses to flee from the scene after a car accident. There are two types of offenses in the state of California for hit and run, and they are classified as either a misdemeanor (only property is damaged) or a felony offense (people/pedestrians are injured). If you damaged property while driving your car and then fled the scene, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor charges are common in California, and under the law, even simple car accidents like crashing into someone’s mailbox can be reason enough for a prosecutor to charge crimes against you.
Law in California
According to the California Vehicle Code Section 20002, anyone involved in a vehicular accident while driving which leads to property damage (including vehicles and regardless of the severity) must:
- Stop the vehicle at the nearest location where it won’t impede traffic or compromise the safety of other motorists.
- The driver must then find the owner of the damaged property and inform them of their name and address/contact details.
- If the other driver/motorist or owner/person-in-charge of the property demands more identification, the driver must present their driver’s license and/or vehicle registration.
- If the owner of the property or the driver of the other vehicle isn’t present, the driver must leave a note indicating where to contact him.
- After a car accident, the driver must file a police report or the police department of the city where the accident took place (or the local headquarters of the Department of the California Highway Patrol, if the collision occurred in an unincorporated territory) must also be informed immediately.
Fleeing the scene and failing to do any of what is lawfully required can lead to the driver being charged with criminal offenses, and if convicted, be punished by imprisonment (not exceeding 6 months) in the county jail, and/or pay fines of up to a thousand dollars.
For most people, what they usually think of when they hear of hit-and-run accidents are either people or cars. But a hit-and-run can involve any type of property such as landscapes, mailboxes, and even pets.
In California, hitting a pet or domestic animal is considered damaging property. Under the law, the driver must try to locate and notify the animal’s owner or the local law enforcement.
It’s also important to note that even in situations where you have no-fault or it is not a fatal accident, you can still be charged with a hit-and-run. For example, if another vehicle crashes into your vehicle while driving, and you refused to stop to exchange contact information, you could be charged with a hit-and-run.
If you find yourself involved in a traffic accident and you need legal representation, contact an Upland defense attorney today for a free case evaluation.
Penalties for Hit and Run
Hit-and-runs are punishable by law, and in California, if a hit-and-run case only involves property damage then it’s a case of a misdemeanor. If the verdict of a judge is that you are liable and convicted of a misdemeanor hit and run, the sentence could be years of probation, 6 months of jail time, and/or a fine of up to a thousand dollars. You might also be required by the court to pay restitution to the owner of the property/properties you damaged.
There are also other consequences in a hit and run accidents aside from paying a fine and spending time in jail. In a misdemeanor case, you’ll still be given a criminal record even though there are no accident victims. Driving offenses could limit the scope of the jobs that you can do, or affect your application for a commercial driver’s license. With a driving offense, 2 points will be added to your driving record and if you receive two more points within a year, your driving license can be revoked or suspended.
How We Can Help
The kind of defenses vary from case-to-case, and an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you determine the strongest and best defense available for you.
Don’t wait until it is too late. Talk to our criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Marc Grossman. Contact us today at 855-5664-911 for a free consultation.