Is Leaving The Scene of An Accident A Crime in California?

Posted By Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners ||

Yes. This is commonly known as a Hit and Run. Leaving the scene of an accident without exchanging personal identifying information and assisting an injured person is a crime in California. A driver must stop whenever there is an accident or vehicle collision regardless of who was at fault, the extent of damages or the seriousness of the injury. Failure to follow these procedures can result in misdemeanor or felony charges.

What To Do After a Traffic Accident

California Vehicle Code section 20002 requires that drivers involved in an auto accident causing property damage to another person's property should do the following:

  • Immediately stop at the scene of the accident;
  • Provide the owner of the damaged property with your name and current address or provide the name and address of the registered owner;
  • Provide the other party with your driver's license and car registration upon request.

All drivers must follow these procedures even if the traffic accident was not your fault or there was little or no damage to the other car. Failure to comply with these procedures can subject you to misdemeanor prosecution. In cases involving damage to a parked car, someone's fence, mailbox, or a telephone poll, drivers must place a note on the damaged property which contains your name & address, a summary of what occurred and immediately report the accident to your local police department.

In cases involving injury or death, California Vehicle Code section 20001 requires drivers to follow the same procedures listed above plus provide reasonable assistance to any injured person and contact their local police department or California Highway Patrol. These requirements apply to every car accident involving property damage, injury or death regardless of who was at fault, the extent of damages or the seriousness of the injuries. California law requires that drivers also follow these procedures for their own passengers if they are hurt or killed.

Penalties

Hit and Run (California Vehicle Code section 20002) involving property damage is prosecuted as a misdemeanor in California and is punishable by up to 180 days in county jail, three years informal probation and fines. Hit and Run involving injury can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the seriousness of the injuries. Misdemeanor Hit and Run with Injury is punishable by up to one year county jail, three years informal probation and some hefty fines. Felony Hit and Run involving serious injury or death is punishable by up to four years in state prison, fines of up to $10,000, restitution and loss of your driver's license.

Collateral Consequences

Collateral consequences for a Hit and Run conviction include:

  • Increase in your insurance premium and/or cancellation of your insurance;
  • At least two points on your driving record;
  • A civil lawsuit can be filed against you by the victim and you may be responsible for any amount not covered by your insurance company;
  • You can also be sued by any passengers injured in the Hit and Run if you were found to be at fault.

Speak To A Criminal Defense Attorney Before You Talk To The Police

Leaving the scene of an accident (Hit and Run) is a big deal and is often charged as a misdemeanor in most cases. In cases involving injury or death, Hit and Run can be prosecuted as a felony punishable by a state prison sentence. Protect yourself by consulting with an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners before speaking to the police. Anything you say to the police can and will be used against you in a criminal case.

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