Hit and Run crimes can be charged as either a misdemeanor or as a felony. A hit and run offense involving property is charged as a misdemeanor if the losses resulting from the act do not exceed a set amount. However, if this crime causes serious bodily injuries or death of another person, it is charged as a felony. A hit and run is treated as a severe crime in California. Under CA Vehicle Code Section 20001, one is required to do various things if they are involved in a car accident. Among the actions that should be taken is stopping your vehicle and remaining at the accident scene; providing identification to other parties involved including law enforcement; providing reasonable help to any injured persons; and contacting law enforcement agents immediately if the accident causes death.
However, some people, instead of following the above requirements, flee the accident scene. Whether you are the one at fault or not, it is important that you stop at the accident scene to avoid hit and run charges. Even if the accident was a result of careless driving, or you were driving while suspended, it is crucial to follow the procedure as this will make the case against you less complicated.
The punishment for a hit and run conviction depends on the injury or if anyone was killed in the accident. If the injuries from the accident underlying the crime are not life threatening, then the defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor hit and run. In this case, the defendant is subjected to up to 1 year in county prison. Additionally, they will be required to pay victim restitution and stipulated court fines.
If the accident underlying the crime causes death or severe, permanent injury, the defendant is charged with a felony hit and run. In this case, the convict will be facing longer jail time. Restitution and fines could also apply in this case, with great chances of the offender losing their driver’s license.
There are several viable defenses that an attorney can raise in a hit and run case. First, if you did not know of your involvement in the collision, you cannot be convicted of this crime. Also, if your fleeing from the crime scene was not wilful, you cannot be found culpable of the offense. For instance, if you abandoned the accident scene out of necessity, for example to avoid possible harm by the people at the scene or to quickly take an injured passenger to the hospital.
If you or a loved one is facing hit and run charges, you should seek the help of an experienced defense attorney to help you with the case. Robert E. Levy has been a criminal defense attorney for over 46 years and he will use his vast experience to present your case to the prosecution, judge or a jury in a manner that will get you a favorable outcome. He fights aggressively for his clients to guarantee the best representation possible.
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