A ‘hit and run’ occurs when a driver crashes into another vehicle, pedestrian, or any object along the road and immediately flees. The key here is that the individual left the scene of the accident without assisting the accident victims or leaving any contact information. Speeding and negligent or reckless driving may cause collisions or hit and run accidents. It may also happen if you unintentionally crashed into another car in a parking space or while attempting to park on the side of the street. The state law forbids a motorist from leaving the scene wherein another driver’s property has been damaged without disclosing their contact details.
A hit and run accident under Vehicle Code § 20002 is classified as a misdemeanor offense. If the criminal conviction is recorded under misdemeanors, offenders would have to face costly fines, penalties, or even imprisonment in county jail.
However, a misdemeanor criminal conviction may be aggravated depending on the severity of the car accident. Car accident cases that result in fatalities are classified as felony criminal offenses. If you have been involved in a vehicle crash, contact the police department and call your accident attorney right away.
You may be considered guilty of a hit and run accident if you left the scene of the accident and failed to disclose yourself to the other party. You may also be proven at fault if you have caused property damage or serious injuries to the accident victims. If you intentionally did not stop after the accident and did not exchange necessary information such as your name, license plate number, and address, you may be prosecuted for hit and run offense.
Criminal charges of misdemeanor hit and runs include a potential sentence of up to 6 months in county jail, a significant amount of fine, or both. Punishments may also include three years of probation, compensation for property damage, and two points on your driving record.
When it comes to vehicular accidents, the other party needs to provide sufficient evidence for you to be proven guilty. There are potential defense strategies that may be used in a misdemeanor criminal case of hit and run. It is possible that the defendant is not aware that a traffic collision happened. Also, your accident lawyer may argue that no damage occurred or the property damage only happened to your vehicle.
There are other related criminal violations under the vehicle code. This includes:
- Driving without a valid driver’s license. This criminal offense applies not only to those who do not have a license in California but also to those who failed to renew their driver’s license. It is not uncommon for an elderly who did not remember to renew his license to unintentionally continue driving his car. For this violation, it must be proven that you are the one who operated the vehicle without a valid license.
- Driving under the influence. DUI is referred to as driving while under the influence of alcohol or any drug substance. This can affect a driver’s ability to drive safely. Depending on whether it was a first or repeated offense, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony DUI. Prosecutors, however, must first obtain strong evidence to prove that you were drunk driving.
- Aggravated hit and run. A misdemeanor may be aggravated if accident injuries were sustained by those involved or someone was killed by the vehicular accident. The charges against you may be raised to a felony if you fled the scene of the accident without helping the car accident victims. It must be proven that the accused who was operating the vehicle (that led to accident injuries or caused a fatal crash) failed to stop to give assistance and contact details.
- Driving under the influence with an injury. Drinking and driving is never a good idea. A DUI that caused serious bodily injury to those involved in an accident is generally considered a felony offense (regardless if it was a first or repeated offense). Sufficient evidence is needed to prove that the accused offender was really under the influence when he drove the vehicle. The prosecutor must show that there was unlawful behavior or failure to perform lawful responsibility causing bodily harm to another party.
- Speeding. Speeding beyond the legal limit is dangerous and can cause a collision that involves great bodily harm on the part of the victims. Take for example a motorist who deliberately engages in a speed exhibition. An exhibition of speed is, by definition, driving at an extremely dangerous rate to show off. Participating in a highway race can cause serious injuries to other drivers or pedestrians and may also cause property damage.
A hit and run accident is a punishable criminal violation. Regardless if you are charged with a misdemeanor offense or a possible felony, it is highly recommended that you hire a credible and experienced criminal defense lawyer. Call a trusted local attorney immediately if you are involved in a car accident.
Seek legal help and assistance to protect your legal rights. Talk to our experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Marc Grossman. Call us at 855-5664-911 for a free consultation.