Los Angeles Hit and Run Defense Attorneys

When an Accident Becomes a Hit and Run

Hit and run accidents are the result of one party causing damage to another party's property or person and leaving the scene before producing the proper driver documentation. Hit and run charges can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the seriousness of the accident.

By state law, the driver of any motor vehicle that has been involved in an accident or collision, regardless of the level of seriousness or extent of injury, must stop, find the owner of the damaged property and produce his or her driver documentation. Failing to do so could result in criminal charges being filed for a hit and run offense.

California Vehicle Codes

Vehicle Code Section 20002 - When an accident results only in property damage (including motor vehicles), the driver must stop and locate owner or person in charge and exchange driver documentation. If owner of damaged property cannot be located, the driver is not permitted to leave the scene of the accident until the following actions have been completed:

  • Leave a note with facts surrounding the case and driver documentation information.
  • Report the accident to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) or local police.

Vehicle Code Sections 20001, 20003, and 20004 - Any accident that involves injury or death mandates the driver to perform all actions included in Section 20002 plus render reasonable assistance to the injured party or parties.

Driver Documentation is Important

The best way to avoid a California Hit and Run charge is to stop after an accident or collision and immediately exchange your driver documentation. If the damaged property is unoccupied, leaving a visible note with your contact information and facts surrounding the case is acceptable. In all cases, the police must be notified.

Driver documentation includes:

  • Full name
  • Valid license number and state of issuance
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Insurance carrier's name, address, telephone number and policy number.

Penalties

Hit and run charges can be classified as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the seriousness of the accident (injury or no injury), extent of damage, and defendant's past criminal record.

  • Misdemeanor Hit and Run - For minor traffic accidents, such as fender benders and other property damage with no physical injuries, a misdemeanor charge is the most likely assessment. According to state law, a hit and run misdemeanor is defined as, "a failure to immediately stop at the scene of a motor vehicle accident resulting in property damage."
  • Felony Hit and Run - When hit and run results in bodily injury or death, a felony will be charged. According to state law, a hit and run felony is defined as, "a failure to immediately stop at the scene of a motor vehicle accident involving death or permanent injury to any person(s) associated with the accident."

Penalties for a misdemeanor will range from no jail time (plus fines and restitution) to 180 days in county jail and, with more serious felony cases, time in state prison.

Los Angeles Hit and Run Attorneys

The attorneys at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners are experienced in defending hit and run cases. For first time offenders, our clients rarely serve jail time. In some cases, we work out an agreement with the victim, Judge, and District Attorney, called a "civil compromise", which results in a dismissal of the hit and run criminal proceedings.

Contact a Los Angeles hit and run attorney at our office to discuss the facts that surround your hit and run case and learn about your legal options.