What You Need to Know When Facing Hit and Run Charges in California

If you or someone you love is facing serious criminal charges, you want to protect your future by having a dedicated advocate on your side who knows California law. Being involved in an auto accident where you are being charged with leaving the scene, can have a serious impact on your future freedom and finances.

You need to protect your rights by contacting a Beverly Hills Hit and Run Attorney who will guide you through the legal process and stand beside you as the prosecution attempts to build a case against you.

What is Considered a 'Hit and Run' under California Law?

Under California law, a 'hit and run' accident falls under two type of offenses. The collision can be determined to be a misdemeanor or a felony. Vehicle Code 20002 is considered a misdemeanor and is determined if you have not

  • Stopped your vehicle upon being involved in an accident that resulted in damage to property. You are expected to move your vehicle to a location that will not impede other traffic and stop immediately.
  • Located and notified the owner or person who owns the vehicle you've hit. You are required to leave your name, address, and driver’s license information with the other party at the scene. The other party involved should also share this same information with you. If you have damaged a parked vehicle, and the owner is not present, this information should be left in a conspicuous place they can locate. Include with your information a brief explanation and then contact the local Police Department.
  • Notified a property owner who suffered damage as a result of your vehicle becoming a 'runaway' before you returned to its location. You are expected to leave the same contact information in a visible place and notify authorities of the incident.
  • If your actions fall under any of these scenarios after your vehicle has damaged another's property, you will face misdemeanor charges under California Vehicle Code 20002. Failing to have complied with the rules of this section could result in a conviction where you could face imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months, and a fine up to $1,000 or both.

If authorities attempt to prosecute you with felony charges, you could face two to four years in state prison, a fine between $1,000 and $10,000 or both.

Speaking with a Hit and Run Attorney before contacting the police is in your best interest and could save you from unfair prosecution. Before you are coerced into an admission to a crime you are not responsible for, contact your attorney immediately. 

Hit and Run with Vehicular Manslaughter Charges

If you are being charged with Vehicular Manslaughter under California Penal Code 192(c), it has been determined you were driving a vehicle and during ordinary negligence caused the unlawful death of another individual. Sentencing and punishment for this act in California can be quite severe. Charges can fall under four categories:

  • A misdemeanor conviction will have you facing up to a year in jail.
  • A felony conviction can impose a two to six-year prison term.
  • If the accident was shown to have occurred for your financial gain, you could face up to ten years in state prison.
  • If you flee the scene where an individual has died as a result of your negligent act, you could face an additional five years in state prison.

Vehicular Homicide under California Penal Code 192 (c) (2) states you were driving a vehicle and were involved in an accident caused by ordinary negligence that resulted in another losing their life. Prosecutors will have to prove you committed an infraction or misdemeanor that was dangerous to human life. They will also have to prove your actions caused the death of another individual.

If you are facing charges of Vehicular Manslaughter or Vehicular Homicide in California, you want an experienced Hit and Run Attorney protecting your rights. They understand what it will take for the prosecution to convict you of these charges and can conduct a full investigation of the incident to ensure you are treated fairly.

Hit and Run Accidents Involving Alcohol

A common reason found for a person to flee the scene of an accident is because alcohol is involved. If you have left the scene hoping traces of alcohol will leave your system before making yourself accountable for the incident, or you were unaware the incident occurred, you may still be accountable. It will have to be proven whether or not you willfully left the scene and intent will have to be shown for your actions.

If you unintentionally left, meaning you were not aware an accident occurred, your attorney may get the charges against you reduced. An investigation of your actions leading up to the incident will be looked into by the prosecution. They can check receipts you may have incurred at restaurants and bars to see the amount of alcohol purchased and consumed and if it could be a determination in your negligence.

During this investigation, you want an experienced Hit and Run Attorney on your side to make sure the process is conducted fairly. You want to ensure all vital information is considered and that the prosecution does not jump to judgment in attempting to convict you.

Leaving the Scene of a Hit and Run Intentionally

If for any reason you intentionally left the scene of an accident, you will want to discuss your actions with an attorney and discuss how you will tell the court. There are factors such as a clean driving record or extenuating circumstances that may convince a judge to reduce your sentencing or possibly dismiss the charges.

A Hit and Run Attorney will be able to help you with addressing the courts to plead your case. Sometimes situations arise such as you believing the damages just weren't severe enough to warrant an exchange of information, or perhaps you did not feel the other driver was going to stop. While your reasoning may not be sufficient to absolve you of guilt for fleeing the scene, they may help in reducing your punishment.

Possible Consequences when Convicted of Hit and Run

A Hit and Run conviction has many possible consequences besides possible jail time and substantial fines. You will also face possible:

  • Suspension of your driving license. The DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) adds two points minimum to your driving record if convicted. Receiving four points during a twelve month period means your driving license will be suspended six months or more. This suspension is in addition to other punishments.
  • Legal charges from any injured person involved in the accident. They will be able to sue you for additional money to pay for medical or emotional conditions resulting from their injuries.
  • Legal charges to cover property damages. The owner of any property damaged can sue you to recover damages occurring to their property. Insurance may cover most of these expenses, however; you will be personally responsible for any amounts not covered by insurance.
  • Wrongful death charges from the family members of any individual who lost their life as a result of the accident. These charges would be added to any criminal punishment, and you could face significant monetary damages.
  • Higher car insurance premiums as your provider will raise your premiums or possibly even cancel your coverage if convicted of a hit and run charge.

An experienced attorney in Hit and Run charges knows their way around California laws and the court system. You want to protect your rights and future as much as possible and as soon as possible if you are charged with Hit and Run. Contact your attorney immediately to receive the best legal advice and avoid any misunderstanding with either court or law officials.

Statute of Limitations Extended in California for Hit and Run Accidents

The statute of limitations has been extended in California to six years for Hit and Run accidents. Previously, prosecutors only had three years to file criminal action against you if charged for fleeing the scene of an accident that resulted in the other party sustaining severe injury or death.

The three-year limit was imposed if the convicted was facing a prison sentence. A one-year statute was in place to file criminal charges if the punishment did not involve a prison sentence as no death occurred. Fleeing the scene of an accident is determined if you do not follow these steps:

When involved in a vehicle accident, you are required to:

  • Stop your car where you are not an immediate danger to other traffic and check in anyone in the other vehicle is injured. You are also required to take any reasonable action to help them if they are hurt.
  • You are to call local authorities, so there is a record of the incident.
  • Provide the other driver with your registration, and driver's license information.
  • Check for any possible witnesses to the accident.
  • Contact your insurance company and report the incident.

If you do not follow these steps, it constitutes 'fleeing the scene,' and you could face criminal charges. Under the new law coded as, California Penal Code 803(j) which was put into place on January 1, 2014, prosecutors can file criminal action under the same guidelines as previously on record one year after law enforcement identifies the suspected person.

They cannot file a claim more than six years after the crime is committed under the new law, and it does not affect civil action for hit and run accidents. Civil suits for a hit and run incident in California allows for the injured party to file a claim up to two years after the accident.

The time allowed to file civil claims in a hit and run incident is to protect injured parties. Victims of accidents often suffer severe consequences to their professional and personal lives. The accident may prevent them from returning to work and unable to maintain their financial stability, or prevent them from doing daily activities they were once able to perform.

With additional time allowed, law officials will be able to prosecute suspects and bring closure to victims or their loved ones.

Five Tips If You Are Involved in Hit and Run Accident

Hit and Run incidents can involve many different scenarios such as a driver hitting a pedestrian and causing severe injury or death and then fleeing the scene. These incidents also involve driving into a parked vehicle or other property causing serious damage and fleeing the scene or running into a parked police vehicle that is being used as a roadblock and then running from the scene.

If you've been involved in any hit and run accident, there are five tips you should know to help you with California law.

  • Even if the accident was not your fault, you could still be charged. It is a crime to leave the scene of an accident if an injury or property damage has occurred. Though the other driver may be at fault for the accident, it is still your responsibility to stop and give your contact information to the driver of the other vehicle.
  • You can be excused from fleeing the scene should you require immediate medical attention either for you or someone else. If you are able to prove this emergency, you may be excused from leaving the scene before personal information was given to other party involved.
  • California Vehicle Code 20001will apply to the passenger inside your vehicle. If this person has been injured and you flee the scene, you could face felony charges.
  • California Penal Code 1377 allows for specific misdemeanor charges like hit and run where property has been damaged during an accident; the incident can be resolved with a civil settlement instead of criminal punishment.
  • There is the possibility of being charged with a misdemeanor hit and run even if no damage occurred to the vehicle. The Vehicle Code 20002 applies to any kind of property, not just vehicles. This means you can be charged for damaging a mailbox, fence or even a pet and then fleeing the scene.

Contacting a Hit and Run Attorney Near Me

Your best defense against a hit and run charge is contacting the Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin at 310-273-9600. Beverly Hills takes these charges seriously and so should you, so your future and rights are protected. You will receive a strong defense from an attorney who has experience with California law and has gained the respect from Los Angles judges, prosecutors and other professionals in the legal system. He will fight to preserve your legal rights and freedom.