Los Angeles Felony Hit and Run
In California, Hit and Run, or fleeing the scene of an accident resulting
in injury or death to another person is a serious charge that can be prosecuted
as a felony. It is critical to speak to an experienced criminal defense
attorney about the facts of your accident before speaking to the police.
Anything you say to the police can be used against you in a criminal prosecution.
A felony Hit and Run conviction may include fines of up to $10,000, a
state prison sentence of four years and a permanent loss of your driver's license.
California Hit and Run
Hit and Run, commonly referred to as leaving the scene of an accident,
occurs when a driver involved in a traffic collision leaves the accident
without exchanging personal information with the other driver. If the
accident resulted in property damage then you could be charged with misdemeanor
Hit and Run (Vehicle Code section 20000). If however, the accident resulted
in injury or death, then you are looking at felony Hit and Run.
According to California Vehicle Code section 20001, a person involved in
a traffic collision resulting in injury or death must pull over and remain
in their vehicle and make reasonable attempts to assist an injured party
(for example, calling for an ambulance or 911). In cases involving a death,
a driver must notify law enforcement and wait until they arrive. These
requirements apply to all cases regardless of fault or the extent of the
injuries. Drivers who fail to perform these actions can be accused of
felony Hit and Run, and may risk facing severe penalties for vehicular
assault, vehicular homicide, and other related charges.
Prosecuting Felony Hit and Run
A prosecutor must show these elements in order to obtain a conviction:
- The defendant was involved in an auto accident;
- The defendant knew that they were in an accident;
- The defendant knew that someone other than themselves was injured or killed
or likely was injured or killed; and
They intentionally did not complete one or more of these duties:
- Stop at the scene of the accident;
- Provide reasonable assistance to any person injured in the accident;
- Give the driver's name and current address and registration number
of the vehicle to the person hit or injured and to law enforcement;
- Give your driver's license & the driver's license of the injured
parties to the other driver and to any law enforcement officer;
- Contact your local police department or California Highway patrol.
Felony Hit and Run Penalties
Sentences for felony Hit and Run offenses vary depending on the extent
of the injuries involved and whether a person was killed. If the accident
caused an injury, the charge can be a “wobbler,” meaning it
may be charged as either a
misdemeanor or a felony at the prosecution's discretion. If the Hit and Run is
charged as a misdemeanor and there is an injury involved it is because
the injury involved is minor (soft tissue, stiff neck, light whiplash).
However, an accident involving severe or permanent injury will always
be charged as a felony.
Penalties for a felony hit and run can include:
- A state prison sentence of between 2 to 4 years
- Loss of driver’s license
- Fines of up $10,000 and restitution.
In addition, prosecutors may also seek gross vehicular manslaughter or
gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated charges after an accident
resulting in fatality. If convicted of these charges, an individual may
also face an additional five years in prison for this crime.
Defending Accused Hit and Run Drivers
There are several possible defenses that your Los Angeles criminal defense
attorney may raise on your behalf. If you were the only injured party
in the accident, you cannot be charged under California Vehicle Code 20001.
Or, if you did not know of your involvement in the collision, or did not
realize your driving caused a serious accident, your actions will not
meet the definition of the crime.
Another viable defense is if your abandonment of the scene was not willful.
This may be the case if you left the scene of the accident out of necessity,
such as to rush a passenger to the hospital or to avoid potential harm
from other people at the scene of the accident. As each case is different,
consult with an experienced attorney at
Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners to learn which defense strategies best apply to your case.
Aggressive and Proven Representation
At Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners, our lawyers have over 70 years
of combined criminal law experience handling all types of criminal cases.
If you have been accused of felony Hit and Run it is important to consult
with an experienced Hit and Run attorney from our office. We will review
the facts of your case, answer your questions in plain English and advise
you on the best action to take in order to achieve a favorable outcome.
Call us for a
no-charge consultation in our office.