Hit and Run

Los Angeles Hit & Run Defense Attorney

When a Traffic Accident Becomes a "Hit and Run"

When you are involved in a traffic accident in Los Angeles and subsequently flee the scene, you could be charged with a hit and run offense. It is against the law to leave the scene of an accident before producing the proper documentation and/or exchanging insurance information with the other parties involved—regardless of how serious the accident actually was. Whether you were involved in a motor vehicle accident while out on the road, you hit a parked car or you otherwise damaged someone else's property, you could face charges for a driving crime if you fail to follow proper procedure.

California Vehicle Codes 20001, 20002, 20003 & 20004

Under California Vehicle Code 20002 you are required to follow specific procedures if you are involved in an accident that results in property damage to another vehicle. First, you must stop and attempt to locate the owner of the other vehicle. If they cannot be located, you cannot leave the scene until you have left a note that describes the circumstances of the accident and contains driver documentation.

You must also report the accident to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) or the local police. If you are involved in an accident that results in injury or death to another person, California Vehicle Codes 20001, 20003 and 20004 state that you must perform all of the same actions as previously described. You must also render reasonable aid to anyone who has been injured. This could include calling an ambulance.

What type of documentation do I have to provide?

Simply put, the best way to avoid hit and run charges after a motor vehicle accident is to stop and exchange information with the other parties involved. Even if the damaged property is unoccupied, leaving a visible note with your contact information and the facts surrounding the case would be acceptable. In every case, the police must also be notified of the accident, and you must provide at least four types of documentation.

When providing driver documentation, it should include:

  • Your full name / your phone number
  • Your license plate number & state of issuance
  • Your vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Your insurance carrier's information.

Penalties for a Hit and Run Conviction in California

Depending on the seriousness of the accident, the extent of the damage that was caused and whether or not you have been convicted of a similar crime in the past, you could either be charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense. If you have been tied to a hit and run crime in Los Angeles, you must act quickly to protect your rights.

  • Misdemeanor hit and run – if you were involved in a minor traffic accident and no one was seriously injured, it is likely that you will be charged with a misdemeanor. This is defined as "failing to stop at the scene of an accident resulting in property damage." The penalties may include up to 180 days in county jail and a fine between $1,000 and $10,000.
  • Felony hit and run – if you were involved in a more serious traffic accident wherein someone else was killed or injured, it is likely that you will be charged with a felony offense. This is defined as "failing to stop at the scene of an accident involving injury or death." The penalties may include up to four years in state prison and a fine between $1,000 and $10,000.

Common Reasons Why Hit and Run Accidents Occur

Hit and run accidents occur for various reasons, often stemming from a combination of factors such as human error, psychological factors, situational circumstances, and legal considerations.

Here are some common reasons why hit and run accidents happen:

  • Panic: In many cases, the driver may panic after being involved in an accident, especially if they are inexperienced, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or if they have outstanding legal issues such as a suspended license or warrants for their arrest. Panic can override rational thinking, leading the driver to flee the scene.
  • Impaired driving: Drivers who are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications may be more likely to flee the scene of an accident to avoid being caught for driving under the influence (DUI). Impaired judgment and diminished cognitive abilities can lead to poor decision-making, including leaving the scene of an accident.
  • No valid license or insurance: Individuals who do not have a valid driver's license or insurance may flee the scene of an accident to avoid legal repercussions. They may fear being cited for driving without a license or insurance, which can result in fines, license suspension, and other penalties.
  • Fear of consequences: Some drivers may flee the scene of an accident because they fear the consequences of their actions, such as facing criminal charges, civil lawsuits, or increased insurance premiums. They may believe that leaving the scene will help them avoid accountability for their actions.
  • Outstanding warrants or legal issues: Drivers with outstanding warrants for their arrest or other legal issues may flee the scene of an accident to avoid being apprehended by law enforcement. They may be aware that their presence at the scene could lead to their arrest, so they choose to leave instead.
  • Distracted driving: Distractions such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, adjusting the radio, or interacting with passengers can divert a driver's attention away from the road, increasing the likelihood of an accident. In some cases, drivers who cause accidents due to distractions may flee the scene out of guilt or to avoid facing consequences for their actions.
  • Unattended property or parked cars: Hit and run accidents aren't limited to collisions involving moving vehicles. Sometimes, drivers accidentally hit parked cars, bicycles, or other unattended property and choose to leave the scene without reporting the incident or providing their contact information.
  • Intentional acts: In rare cases, hit and run accidents may be intentional acts committed by individuals seeking to harm others or evade law enforcement. These incidents may involve road rage, disputes between individuals, or criminal activity.

What to Do If You Are Arrested for Hit and Run

Being accused of a hit and run accident can be a daunting experience, especially if you know you're innocent. In such situations, it's essential to remain calm and take appropriate steps to protect your rights and defend yourself against false allegations.

  1. Stay Calm and Composed: Upon learning of the accusation, it's natural to feel anxious or upset. However, maintaining a calm and composed demeanor is crucial. Panicking or reacting impulsively can worsen the situation.
  2. Gather Evidence: If possible, collect any evidence that supports your innocence. This may include witness statements, surveillance footage, photos of your vehicle's undamaged state, or documentation proving your whereabouts at the time of the incident.
  3. Document Your Activities: Create a detailed timeline of your activities leading up to and following the alleged hit and run. Include information about where you were, who you were with, and any relevant transactions or interactions that can corroborate your whereabouts.
  4. Contact Legal Representation: As soon as possible, seek the assistance of an experienced attorney who specializes in hit and run cases. A skilled lawyer can provide invaluable guidance, assess the evidence against you, and develop a robust defense strategy.
  5. Cooperate with Authorities: While it may be tempting to avoid interacting with law enforcement, cooperating with the investigation is essential. Provide truthful statements and present any evidence or information that supports your innocence.
  6. Avoid Incriminating Statements: Be cautious when communicating with law enforcement or other parties involved in the case. Refrain from making statements that could be misinterpreted or used against you. It's best to consult with your attorney before providing any information.
  7. Stay Informed: Keep yourself informed about the progress of the investigation and any developments in your case. Stay in regular communication with your attorney and follow their advice regarding legal proceedings and court appearances.
  8. Maintain Confidentiality: Avoid discussing the details of the case with anyone other than your attorney. Confidentiality is essential to protect your legal interests and prevent potential complications.
  9. Prepare for Legal Proceedings: If the case progresses to court, adequately prepare for legal proceedings. Work closely with your attorney to gather evidence, identify witnesses, and build a compelling defense to refute the accusations against you.
  10. Remain Patient: Resolving a hit and run accusation takes time and patience. Trust in the legal process and remain optimistic about achieving a favorable outcome. With diligent effort and skilled legal representation, you can effectively defend yourself against wrongful accusations of hit and run.

In conclusion, being wrongly accused of a hit and run accident can be a challenging ordeal. However, by remaining calm, gathering evidence, seeking legal assistance, and cooperating with authorities, you can effectively defend your innocence and navigate through the legal proceedings with confidence.

Defending Accused Hit and Run Drivers

Hit-and-run charges involve leaving the scene of an accident without fulfilling legal obligations such as rendering aid or providing identification. Here are some common legal defenses to such charges:

  • Lack of Knowledge: If the defendant was genuinely unaware that they were involved in an accident, they may have a defense. For example, if the collision was minor and the defendant reasonably believed there was no damage, they might argue that they didn't know they needed to stop.
  • Emergency Situation: If the defendant left the scene to seek medical assistance for themselves or others involved in the accident, they may argue that they had a valid reason for leaving.
  • Mistaken Identity: The defendant might argue that they were not the driver involved in the accident, providing evidence such as alibis, witness testimonies, or proof that their vehicle was elsewhere at the time.
  • Duress or Coercion: If the defendant left the scene due to threats or coercion from another person, they might have a defense of duress. This defense requires evidence that they reasonably believed they were in imminent danger if they did not leave.
  • Necessity: The defendant might argue that leaving the scene was necessary to avoid a greater harm. For example, if staying at the scene would have endangered their safety due to hostile bystanders or traffic conditions, they might have a defense of necessity.
  • Statute of Limitations: In some cases, the prosecution must bring charges within a certain time frame after the alleged offense. If the prosecution misses this deadline, the defendant may be able to have the charges dismissed.

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.

Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners Can Defend Your Rights

Were you recently arrested for a hit and run crime in Los Angeles, CA? If so, you should waste no time in contacting a criminal defense lawyer at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners. With more than 70 years of combined legal experience, our firm knows how to build an effective defense.

When our clients are first-time offenders in a hit and run case, they rarely serve any jail time. In some cases, we have even been able to work out an agreement with the victim, judge or district attorney—resulting in a dismissal of the criminal proceedings. Find out how we can assist you by giving us a call today.

Contact a Los Angeles criminal attorney at our office to discuss your case. In a free case evaluation, we can advise you of your rights and legal options.

  • ABA
  • BAR
  • CACI
  • Maba Logo
  • super lawyer

Client Reviews

  • God Bless you Stephen, wish you all the successes in life.

    “Stephen is a great contact and extremely helpful and knowledgeable. I am glad that I was his client in the past. Top lawyer, top man. God Bless you Stephen, wish you all the successes in life.”

  • Don't hesitate to contact them!

    “I was referred to this group of Attorneys. I was started with a low cost made arrangements. My case had to do with assault allegations. The case was dismissed they helped me not to loose my daughter to the system.”

Contact Our Firm Today

  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please enter a message.