If you’re a California driver, you need to know about the state’s hit and run laws, even before car accidents occur.
If your car gets into an accidental collision with a parked vehicle, you can’t just drive away and pray that there are no witnesses.
If you do that, it would fall under California Vehicle Code § 20002 as a misdemeanor hit and run. It states that an individual at fault in a motor vehicle accident cannot leave the scene without properly identifying themselves to the owner of the damaged property. You should leave your contact information for the damaged vehicle’s owner
If the car accident involves bodily injury or fatalities, it would fall under California Vehicle Code § 20001, which may make it a felony.
We’ll discuss the details of these vehicle codes below, including the prohibitions, penalties, and defenses. If you want to know more about your specific case, it’s best to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Our Upland lawyers from the Law Offices of Marc Grossman are your best bet to help you when you get into a hit and run accident.
Misdemeanor: California Vehicle Code § 20002
You may be guilty of a misdemeanor hit and run if:
- There is damage to another person’s property.
- You leave the accident scene;
- You did not identify yourself to those involved.>
For a conviction, the prosecutor must prove that:
- The defendant was involved in a vehicular accident while driving;
- The accident damaged the property of another party;
- The defendant was aware of the accident and that damage occurred;
- The defendant knowingly failed:
- To stop at the scene;
- To provide the victim of property damage the driver’s name, their address, the owner of the vehicle, if they’re another person.
As it is a misdemeanor, the possible sentence and penalties include the following:
- Up to $1000.00 in fine
- Up to six months of county jail time
- Render restitution for the damages
- Two points on a California driving record
- Three years of probation
No damage occurred
An essential element for a conviction is that there is damage. If the prosecution cannot prove that the driver knows that damage occurred, they cannot prove the crime.
The driver failed to realize an accident happened
Another important element to prove a hit and run occurred is that the driver knowingly leaves the scene after an accident. If the automobile accident was so minor to be noticed, then it may be that the driver did not know that an accident occurred. Thus, they could not have willfully failed to leave their contact information.
Only the driver’s car was damaged
If the driver only caused damage to their property, then the prosecution cannot prove another essential element: damage to another person’s property.
Of course, each case is different. Schedule a free consultation with an Upland accident lawyer from the Office of Marc Grossman. Contact us now!
California Vehicle Code § 20001
Penal Code § 20001 may either be a felony or a misdemeanor.
The biggest difference from the previous Vehicle Code is the involvement of harm to another person. It’s a hit and runs under Vehicle Code § 20001 if the driver fled the scene of the vehicle crash after causing wrongful death or bodily injury.
If the conviction is a misdemeanor, then the punishment is:
- Up to one year in county jail
- Up to $10,000.00 in fines
If it’s a felony, the punishment would also include:
- Up to 3 years locked up in state prison;
- 2–4 years imprisonment if serious injuries or death are involved.
No matter if it’s a misdemeanor or a felony, a hit-and-run case should not be taken lightly. Reckless driving, speeding, or negligence can cause pain and suffering for both the party at fault and the accident victim. If you’ve been in a car accident, call a car accident attorney immediately for legal representation.
Our Upland, California car accident attorneys from the Law Offices of Marc Grossman have handled countless cases of hit and run accidents. We’ll review your car accident case and craft the best possible defense strategy to get rid of the charge or to seek the least penalty possible. Contact our office today to schedule your free initial consultation.