If you have been charged with a hit and run offense of the state of California, you need to know what to expect if you are convicted. The precise consequences depend first on whether the offense is categorized as a misdemeanor or felony. If you have been charged with either type of hit and run offense, contact an experienced California criminal defense attorney.
Vehicle Code 20002 VC Governs Misdemeanor Hit and Run Offenses in California
In California, Vehicle Code 20002 VC governs misdemeanor hit and run offenses. Under the code, a misdemeanor hit and run offense transpires when a driver leaves the scene of an accident without first identifying him or herself to the other party or parties involved. A perpetrator of a hit and run accident can drive away or leave the scene on foot before exchanging name and insurance information with the other party or parties involved in the accident. The accident must involve damage to a vehicle, home, business, or other personal property for it to be considered a hit and run.
A Hit and Run with Injuries
The difference between a misdemeanor and felony hit and run offense is that a felony offense involves a personal injury or fatality to another party or parties. The leaving the scene component is the same, as is the failure to identify oneself. Individuals who flee the scene of an accident commonly have no idea whether any injuries or fatalities occurred. This lack of knowledge represents a huge risk. Leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage is already a serious transgression. To leave the scene of an accident in which others were injured or killed is even more grave a violation.
Why do some people choose to leave the scene of an accident? Fear, in its many forms, plays some role – fear of paying for the cost of vehicle damages or personal injuries, and fear of being caught without having car insurance, for example.
California’s Hit and Run Laws Apply Even if the Fleeing Driver is Not at Fault
Some drivers leave the scene of an accident even if they do not believe they were at fault in causing the accident. It is critical that individuals understand that California’s hit and run laws apply irrespective of who was at fault in causing the accident. Make no mistake – even if you did not cause the accident, you can be charged with a hit and run offense if you left the scene without first identifying yourself to the other party or parties following an accident that involved property damage or personal injuries. If you have been charged with a hit and run offense in California, contact an experienced California criminal defense attorney to mount the strongest possible defense.