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Blogs from November, 2016

Judge holding pen with scales of justice and gavel next to him

In California, a hit and run accident can have serious repercussions including fines and jail time, regardless of whether there were personal injuries or property damage. If you have been charged with a hit and run, an experienced lawyer can protect your rights in court and help mitigate the penalties associated with the charge.

California Vehicle Code 20002

Under California Vehicle Code 20002, a hit and run can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Under the Vehicle Code, you will be charged with a misdemeanor hit and run if:

  • You leave the scene of an accident;
  • Without providing identification to the other party involved;
  • Someone else’s property was damaged

A felony conviction has the same elements except that, instead of property damage, there was bodily injury or death of another person.

If you are convicted of misdemeanor hit and run, the charge will result in a $1,000 fine and up to six months in county jail. A felony hit and run can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The misdemeanor charge will result in up to a one-year county jail sentence while the felony charge includes a fine of $1,000 – $10,000 and up to four years in state prison. In California, it does not matter who was at fault, the amount of damage caused or the extent of the injuries of the other person.

How a Hit and Run Defense Lawyer Helps in Court

Having an experienced defense lawyer on your side in court can be of paramount importance: an attorney will help you navigate the legal process while advocating on your behalf to the judge and jury. There are several legal defenses an attorney may use to help you avoid a hit and run charge. These include:

  • Your vehicle was the only property damaged
  • Lack of knowledge
  • You were not the driver

Your attorney may argue that your vehicle was the only property damaged. Another valid legal defense is that you did not know that there had been an accident. Or, if your car was stolen or someone else had access to the vehicle at the time, your attorney may argue that you were not the driver at the time of the accident and therefore cannot be charged with a hit and run.

Another way that a hit and run defense lawyer can help you is by negotiating a civil compromise. Under California Penal Code 1377, misdemeanor hit and run accidents that only involve property damage, may be settled out of court for monetary damages without criminal liability.

If you have been involved in a hit and run accident and may be facing fines and jail time, an experienced hit and run defense attorney can help ensure that you receive the strongest possible defense in court, mitigating the long-term consequences of such a charge.