Protecting the Rights of Our Clients
In California, any drivers involved in an accident on the road are legally required to stop driving and exchange information. Unfortunately, some drivers panic and flee the scene of an accident, which can lead to criminal charges and serious penalties. Even if you didn’t mean to leave the scene, you can still be charged with a hit & run under California law.
Although hit & run charges are severe and can lead to legal consequences, you can fight to reduce or remove the charges you are facing. By hiring a team of experienced criminal defense attorneys, you can create a legal defense strategy to protect your rights and your freedom. At the DUI Defense Group, our lawyers focus solely on traffic violation cases, so we are confident we can assist you with hit & run charges. To receive a free consultation and learn more about our team, contact us today at 866-927-3295.
What Constitutes a Hit & Run Charge?
To be convicted of a hit & run charge, the prosecution must prove a few significant elements. If the prosecution cannot prove all of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, it is doubtful that a jury would convict you.
Below are the factors that constitute a hit & run charge in California:
- You were driving a vehicle, and you were involved in an accident in which someone was injured
- You knew you were in an accident and that someone was injured, or it was probable that someone was injured
- You failed to stop at the scene and provide your name, address, and vehicle registration number
- You failed to provide your information to law enforcement if present
- You failed to provide reasonable assistance to the injured person
- You failed to report the accident to law enforcement
- The accident caused a death or serious injury to someone else
A hit & run that causes injury can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. A hit & run that only involves property damage is always charged as a misdemeanor. Understanding the criminal charges against you is essential when building your defense case. If you have any questions, contact our office today for more information.
What Are the Potential Penalties for a Hit & Run Conviction?
Hit & run penalties depend on the nature of your charges and how much damage was caused in the accident. If there was an injury, but it was not serious, you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and fines.
If there was an injury and it was serious or caused death, you could be charged with a misdemeanor. This charge carries a minimum penalty of 90 days in jail and a maximum penalty of one year in jail, plus fines. If the accident resulted in death and you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there could be an additional five years of jail time added to your sentence.
If there was an injury that was serious or resulted in death, you could also be charged with a felony. The maximum penalty for a felony hit & run is four years incarceration and fines. If you were intoxicated, you could receive an additional five years of imprisonment.
Hit & run charges that involve property damage are always charged as a misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for misdemeanor hit & runs is six months in county jail.
What Are the Main Defense Strategies for a Hit & Run Charge?
A prosecutor must be able to prove the various elements of a hit & run case in order for you to be charged. For instance, if the prosecutor is unable to prove that you knew someone was injured, it’s likely that your charges could be reduced or even dropped. There are many defense strategies that our team could use for your case, and all of them depend on the specific nature of your charges. However, there may be some common defense strategies that could work for you.
Below are the main defense strategies for hit & run cases:
- Lack of evidence about who was driving. Hit & run charges only apply to drivers, not passengers or witnesses. If the prosecution cannot prove you were driving, your case could be dismissed.
- No personal injury or property damage. Hit & run charges are only relevant if the accident caused injury, death, or property damage.
- Mistaken belief. Our team could argue that you believed no one was injured and no property damage had occurred.
What Should You Do if You Are Involved in a Hit & Run Accident?
Hit & run charges can lead to serious consequences. If you or a loved one were involved in a hit & run accident, you first need to reach out to our team of experienced criminal defense attorneys. We can begin building a case in your defense to reduce or remove the penalties you are facing.
Generally, it is not advisable to talk to law enforcement officers without an attorney present. Similarly, you should not make a statement to insurance companies or other parties involved in the accident without seeking legal counsel.
What Can a Defense Attorney Do for You?
Leaving the scene of an accident could seem like a simple mistake, especially if you fled in a panic. However, a hit & run conviction can lead to jail time, fines, and a permanent criminal record that follows you around for life. At the DUI Defense Group, our experienced attorneys are committed to fighting for your rights to reduce or remove the penalties you are facing. If you were involved in a hit & run accident, don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact our office today at 866-927-3295.