Los Angeles Hit and Run Lawyer
Hit and run accidents usually bring to mind images of people speeding away from the scene of a car accident. While this situation is indeed a hit and run, California laws regarding these types of accidents encompass a larger range of actions. Even if you stop your vehicle following an accident, someone can still accuse you of a hit and run if you fail to identify yourself or provide contact information. These laws are in effect regardless of who was at fault, the extent of the damages, or how minor the injuries were. A hit and run attorney from Spolin Law P.C. can explain the nuances of these statutes, and how they may apply to your case.
If you’ve been involved in a hit and run accident in the Los Angeles area, contact a violent crimes lawyer from Spolin Law P.C. right away. Call us today at (310) 424-5816 to schedule a free, initial consultation of your case.
California Vehicle Code & Hit and Runs
According to California Vehicle Code 20000 – 20010, you can be accused of a hit and run if you fail to do the following after an accident:
- Immediately stop your vehicle
- Provide your name and address
- Provide your driver’s license and vehicle registration information upon request
- Provide a written report if the accident to the Highway Patrol or police department of the city where the accident occurred
If you damaged someone else’s property and the owners of said property are not present during the accident, per California law you still need to provide your information either in person or by note. If you leave the scene of an accident that caused property damage without identifying yourself, you could face a misdemeanor hit and run charge, requiring help from a Los Angeles hit and run lawyer.
Additionally, you must also provide reasonable assistance to anyone hurt in an accident if they request it. This can be done by calling emergency personnel and transporting any hurt individuals to the proper health care professional.
Penalties for Hit and Runs
Hit and run offenses are prosecuted aggressively. Charges can even result from a minor fender bender or accident when you did not collide with another vehicle, but drove in a manner that caused another accident.
Criminal consequences for hit and runs in California vary depending on the severity of the collision and whether property damage or injuries were incurred. A hit and run is considered a “wobbler,” meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. You will be charged with a misdemeanor if the accident only resulted in property damage. As a misdemeanor, possible penalties include:
- Up to six months in a county jail
- Fines reaching $1,000
- Two points on your driver’s license
If the accident resulted in injury or death to parties other than yourself, the hit and run is considered a felony. If you’re charged with this offense, the penalties are:
- Two, three, or four years in prison
- Fines reaching $10,000
- Two points on your driver’s license
Penalties increase if the hit and run occurred while you were intoxicated or driving without a license.
If the hit and run is your first offense and is charged as a misdemeanor, and you were driving legally, the court may allow a civil compromise. In this situation, your misdemeanor hit and run charge can be dismissed after you reimburse the cost of the damaged property to any victims.
Collateral Consequences of a Hit and Run
Illegally leaving the scene of an accident can also result in suspension or revocation of a driver’s license, as well as increased damages if the other parties involved decide to file a lawsuit against you. Many insurance companies do not cover hit and run accidents, so any damages awarded to the plaintiff would likely need to come out of pocket.
How a Hit and Run Attorney Can Help
To be charged with a hit and run, prosecutors must prove that you willfully left the scene of an accident knowing there was damage or injury. With this in mind, possible defenses for a hit and run allegation in California include:
- Only My Property Was Damaged – If the damage sustained was only to your own vehicle, you could argue that California law does not require that you stop and identify yourself.
- Lack of Knowledge – If you were not aware that you were in an accident, you may not be held liable for a hit and run.
- Mistaken Identity – If your vehicle was stolen and the driver subsequently fled the scene of an accident they caused, you can’t be charged with a hit and run.
- You Were Not Driving – In hit and run cases, only the driver is held liable if they fail to stop and exchange information.
Contact a Los Angeles Hit and Run Lawyer Today
Under California law, hit and run accidents must be reported. If you’re found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it to the proper authorities or exchanging information with the other drivers, you risk time in jail or prison, hefty fines, and points on your driver’s license. You also leave yourself susceptible to civil lawsuits to recover financial compensation from you.
Retaining the help of a successful Los Angeles hit and run lawyer can mean the difference between a civil compromise and the maximum statutory penalties. Spolin Law P.C. will fight for you to maintain your rights and your freedom. We have a history of providing a strong defense. A criminal defense lawyer makes all the difference. If you or someone you know is facing hit and run charges, contact us today at (310) 424-5816 for a free consultation.