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In California, there are two types of hit and run offenses: misdemeanor and felony. A misdemeanor is the less serious of the charges, and a felony is going to be the most serious. The easiest way to avoid this charge is to take responsibility when you’re in an accident. NEVER leave the scene of an accident. Ever! Whether it was your fault, the other driver’s fault, or the environment’s fault, it’s your responsibility to stay at the scene and make sure everyone’s okay and account for the accident. Vehicle Code 20002 VC deals with this.
20002 VC defines leaving the scene of the accident as something that occurs if you:
Leave the scene of the accident, without identifying yourself to the other party or parties involved, and someone’s property was damaged as a result. The third part is important. It means that damage occurred, either to a person or a piece of property. Distinguishing between felony and misdemeanor hit and run is relative simple and based on this all important third part: If there is property damage, it is misdemeanor hit and run. If there is an injury caused during your accident, and you leave the scene, it’s a felony. This includes injury or death of the other party.
Many people have some misconceptions about what constitutes a hit and run. Many might mistakenly believe that if the person who leaves the scene wasn’t at fault, it wasn’t a hit and run. YES IT WAS. No matter what the circumstances of the accident and who was at fault, you MUST stay at the scene if there was damage to property or injury to another person. The amount of damage doesn’t matter either. You can’t even leave the scene if it’s a fender bender because really, how do you know there’s damage unless you inspect the scene and speak to the other party? The severity of the injury doesn’t matter either. It could be whiplash on the part of the other person or as severe as death, both are not accounted for as to making it a felony or not. If injury occurred, it’s a felony.
Misdemeanor is the less serious of the two and if convicted you could face $1,000 fine and 6 months in county jail. Felony Hit & Run carries much more severe penalties, with up to a $10,000 fine and 3 years in state prison. If you killed someone and then engaged in a hit and run, you could face 4 years. As you can see, these penalties all could warrant time in jail, and that can interfere in your life dramatically. These cases are even very common among people who have no criminal history whatsoever. There may be times when the person doesn’t even know they committed a crime. It doesn’t matter. In the eyes of the law, this is a serious crime, especially if serious injury or death occurred to the other person.
If charged with a hit & run, waste no time! Hire an attorney who can defend you against these serious charges. Your legal defense team has a wealth of defenses they can use on your behalf that can get the charges reduced or even dismissed altogether, and if you do end up facing jail time, your attorney can barter for alternatives like probation instead of prison time.
– No damage to the other car occurred
– You are not the person who was involved in the accident, you were an onlooker
– You were unaware of any property damage in the accident or even that you were in an accident at all
All of these defenses have been used successfully at one time or another by experienced legal defense attorneys, so there’s no reason to think they might not work in your case, too. Don’t take your charge passively. Take charge today and call an attorney who can help you get the best possible outcome for the circumstances surrounding your case. Only an attorney can handle this. Call a great defense attorney today.