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This is the code within California Vehicle Code that deals with the distinction between felony and misdemeanor hit & run. If you’ve been charged with misdemeanor hit & run, here’s what it means.
1. You left the scene of an accident
2. You didn’t identify yourself to the other party
3. There was property damaged in the accident
If these three things are true, you were charged with the correct crime of misdemeanor hit & run, and this can be an unpleasant charge to deal with because there is both a fine and jail time that could be leveled against you in a conviction. There is a distinction made between property damage (misdemeanor) and injury (felony) hit & run. Lack of concern about property damage is still less serious than injuring or killing another person during an accident and then driving away. It doesn’t accuse the crime of misdemeanor hit & run, though, and some of the penalties can be very severe even in misdemeanor levels of the crime.
One thing to remember is that fault has nothing to do with your charge. Even if you were not at fault in the accident, you STILL can’t drive away from the scene of an accident where there was damage to property. The fact is, if there’s damage to property and you fail to make contact with the other party, things can result in a criminal charge. Many people with no prior history of criminal activity can find themselves accused of misdemeanor hit & run and have very little knowledge of just why.
Legal defenses are plentiful:
– Your own car was damaged but not the other party’s
– You were unaware that an accident occurred (this does happen sometimes)
– You were falsely accused of being in an accident when you weren’t
Every good defense attorney has their stories, and these are some of the things that they might use to defend you on these misdemeanor hit & run charges.
If you are convicted of this charge, you face a fine of up to $1,000 and 6 months in county jail. If that doesn’t frighten you into getting an attorney, nothing will. If the consequences of a conviction is jail time, you most definitely need an attorney. And remember that misdemeanors become a permanent part of your record and can drastically affect your ability to get a job later on. It’s imperative that you hire an attorney to fight this serious offense.
Other than the obvious unpleasantness of time in county jail, remember that this can also affect future ability to get a place to live or future employment, two very big things. Many people mistakenly think that there is a magic amount of time that passes before a misdemeanor falls off your record and stops haunting you. In reality, a misdemeanor can show up on your record for LIFE, depending on the kind of background check the person is running on you. There’s no good excuse to take a chance on this charge and try to beat it yourself.
Golden rule number one: Call an attorney. There’s no excuse not to. When you are charged with misdemeanor hit & run, you are being accused of failing in your duty as a driver to ensure that all party’s are contacted after an accident. When you leave the scene of the accident, you show a shocking lack of clarity and responsibility. A good prosecutor is going to play up this fact and try to give you the harshest penalty possible. And future employers or people who might rent a residence to you will SEE this charge and perhaps wonder if you can be trusted. Don’t let it come to that!
When you hire an attorney, you give yourself the best chance for a more positive outcome. This can include having the charge dismissed before trial, getting a plea bargain that reduces the charge to a lesser offense, or receiving probation instead of jail time in the case of a conviction. You have a great chance for these outcomes IF you call an attorney today.