Hit and Run Accidents
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In most cases when auto accidents occur, one or both drivers deal only with civil liability, meaning they are focused on who will pay for injuries and other damages. In addition, they also deal with insurance companies to make sure their rates do not increase due to the accident. However, even if an accident takes place where nobody involved with the accident was deemed to be negligent, criminal charges such as hit-and-run may result. Due to the serious nature of such charges and the consequences of a conviction, it is crucial you know what you may be up against with police and prosecutors. To make sure your legal rights are protected regarding hit-and-run charges, speak to an attorney for expert guidance.
Hit and Run Accidents
When hit-and-run charges are brought against you by police and prosecutors, the emphasis will be not on the accident itself, but what took place afterwards. In these situations, the primary elements involved will be whether or not you stopped at the scene of the accident, provided identification, and whether or not you offered any type of assistance to victims who were injured.
Does Hit-and-Run Only Involve Motor Vehicles?
If you assume a hit-and-run accident only involves accidents between motor vehicles, you are wrong. In fact, hit-and-run accidents can include a car hitting a pedestrian, bicyclist, or even a parked car or other property that was stationary at the time of the accident. If you were involved in such an accident and now have hit-and-run charges filed against you, do not panic.
Knowledge of the Accident
To be convicted of hit-and-run when an accident occurs, you must have knowledge that an accident actually took place. While it is always possible you may not have been aware of being involved in an accident, most judges rarely believe a defense of ignorance. Therefore, rely on an experienced car crash attorney that can help you build a solid defense.
You Were Not at Fault
As unfair as it may sound, you can still be charged and convicted of hit-and-run even if you were not at fault for the accident itself. As an example, if you were driving through a town or city and struck a pedestrian who happened to be jaywalking at that moment, you cannot simply continue on your way. If you do and thus fail to stop at the accident scene, identify yourself, and offer assistance to the victim, police can charge you with hit-and-run. If you don’t your charges will be much greater than if you had immediately reported the accident.
Private Property Hit-and-Run
While some state laws specify a driver can only be charged with hit-and-run if the accident happens on a public road, laws in other states are not very clear on this matter. In most instances, unless state law says otherwise, you can be charged with hit-and-run even if you are on private property when the accident happens. Since this can sometimes become a crucial issue in these cases, hire a car wreck lawyer with extensive experience in hit-and-run cases.
Hit-and-Run Charges as a Passenger
Yes, it is true that in some cases you could be charged with hit-and-run if you were a passenger in the vehicle. This can happen if you as the passenger take control of the vehicle and drive away from the accident scene, or if you persuade the driver to leave the scene of the accident. Unfortunately, it is quite possible the driver in an accident may claim you did one of these acts, and thus should be the one facing hit-and-run charges. Rather than be made the fall guy, consult with an injury attorney to get to the bottom of what really happened.
Penalties for Hit-and-Run
If you are facing hit-and-run charges, be aware the penalties can vary greatly depending on whether you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor. Most of the time, any hit-and-run accident where victims suffered serious injuries, major property damage took place, or the victim died will result in felony charges. In either instance, fines, jail time, or prison sentences are a possibility. For felony hit-and-run, California law states a conviction can lead to a prison sentence of as much as four years and a fine of possibly $10,000. For misdemeanor convictions, you could be looking at six months in a local jail and a $1,000 fine. Since there is a tremendous disparity between felony and misdemeanor convictions, make sure you are represented by an experienced car crash attorney. The expertise of the attorneys of Accident Lawyers Firm can ensure that you receive a lighter sentence.
As if the possibility of large fines and spending time in a jail or prison were not bad enough, you could face additional penalties if convicted of hit-and-run. One of the most common is a civil lawsuit filed against you by the victim, which could result in you being expected to pay thousands of dollars more to the victim. Along with this, your car insurance will increase or may even be cancelled. As a last blow, the DMV will likely penalize your driving record should this conviction occur, which could make it harder to get insurance or be hired for any job where driving is a primary duty. Since you will need an auto accident lawyer, make sure you follow their advice so that they can to give you the best possible chance of walking out of court a winner.
While facing hit-and-run charges can be very intimidating, they by no means dictate that a conviction is inevitable. No matter the evidence police and prosecutors say they have against you, our attorneys always fight for you from beginning to end. To learn what options may be available to you, consult now with a hit-and-run collision lawyer from Accident Lawyers Firm.