Hit and Run Accidents
In California, the crime of hit-and-run can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony under one of two statutes.
- First, California Vehicle Code Section 20001 sets out the punishments for hit and run causing injury [either permanent, serious injury (also known as “serious bodily injury”) or death].
- Second, California Vehicle Code section 20002 sets out the punishments for hit and run when only property damage occurs.
In many hit and run cases, a witness at the scene will write down the tag number of the vehicle that leaves the scene. Law enforcement officers will then visit the home or business of the registered owner of the vehicle in hopes of getting a confession. In many of these cases, the investigating officer knows that without a confession, there is no way to make an arrest.
Your attorney can help you assert your right to remain silent and your right to have an attorney represent you making it less likely the police will come knocking on your door.
Many of these cases also involve a lawsuit by a personal injury attorney on behalf of the owner of the property damaged or the person injured. If your insurance is not sufficient to cover the amount awarded during the lawsuit then the alleged victim can come after your personal assets. Your criminal defense attorney can also help you deal with your insurance company.
If you were involved in a hit-and-run crash or if you are the owner of a vehicle involved in a hit-and-run crash in San Francisco, or anywhere in the greater San Francsico Bay Area, then contact an attorney at Ticket Crushers. We can help you assert your right to remain silent so that you do not incriminate yourself and your right to counsel. We can help you at each stage of the case.
If you were charged with either the felony or misdemeanor version of hit and run, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at our law firm. We represent clients charged with traffic crimes under CVC 20001 or 20002. Call 1 (866) 842-5384 today to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Defenses to Hit and Run Charges in California
Many important defenses apply to felony or misdemeanor charges of hit and run or leaving the scene of a traffic crash. For example, if the prosecutor is unable to prove you were driving, the case cannot proceed. In some of these cases, the driver did not know that the accident or crash occurred. It is also possible that the driver was so severely injured in the crash that he or she was unable to meet the reporting requirements.
The attorneys at Ticket Crushers know the law and important defenses that exist to fight these serious charges of hit and run.
- Lack of evidence about who was driving – Hit and run only applies to drivers and not to passengers or witnesses to the crash who were not driving.
- No personal injury or property damage occurred – The charge of hit and run only applies if the crash resulted in injury or property damage.
- Mistaken belief – Charges can be reduced or cleared if you honestly believed that no one was injured or that no property was damaged.
- Other exceptions – Certain circumstances, like another person threatening your life, make it permissible to keep a safe distance from an accident.
Types of "Leaving the Scene" Crimes in California
California law provides for many different types of hit-and-run crimes (often called the hit-and-skip) including:
- misdemeanor hit and run with property damage only (either attended property or unattended property) under CVC 20002;
- hit and run with injury under CVC 20001(b)(1);
- felony hit and run with permanent and serious injury under CVC 20001(b)(2);
- felony hit and run with death under CVC 20001(b)(2); and
- vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in Hit and Run Cases
What if the Crash was Not My Fault?
California law imposes duties upon a driver of a vehicle who knows that he or she has been involved in an accident which has resulted in death or injury to any person. Those duties are not affected by the cause of, or the blame for, the accident. If the driver willfully fails to perform any of those duties, he or she is guilty of a crime, regardless of whether the accident was caused by her or her own or another's negligence or by the concurrent negligence of two or more persons, or was unavoidable.
What if I Was Too Injured From the Crash to Comply with the Reporting Requirements?
A vehicle driver who is rendered unconscious or is disabled by an accident so that he or she is incapable of performing any of the foregoing duties may not be held criminally liable for his or her failure to perform that duty.
What if I Stopped Soon After the Crash But Not Immediately?
The term “immediately stop” as used in these instructions means that the driver of a vehicle knowingly involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person, must stop his or her vehicle at the scene of the accident as promptly as reasonably possible under the circumstances of the case.
What if the Passenger in My Vehicle was the Only Person Injured?
The law requiring the driver of a vehicle, knowingly involved in an accident resulting in death or personal injury to any person, to stop and to perform certain other duties, applies not only to cases in which the injured person is a pedestrian or the occupant of another vehicle but also to cases in which the injured person is riding in the same vehicle with the driver.
Attorneys for Hit and Run Charges in San Francisco, CA
If you were charged with leaving the scene of a traffic crash without meeting your reporting requirements (sometimes called "hit and skip"), then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Ticket Crushers. We represent clients charged with both misdemeanor and felony hit and run cases in San Francisco, CA.
We can help you understand the charges and potential punishment. Call one of our attorneys for motor vehicle crimes to learn more about ways to fight for the best result. We also represent clients on related charges for DUI, exhibition of speed, engaging in a speed contest, reckless driving and driving while license suspended.
This article was last updated on Friday, August 5, 2016.
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