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Newport Beach Hit and Run Lawyers

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Hit-and-run seems self-explanatory, but California laws apply to a range of behaviors, not just fleeing from the scene of an accident. Failing to do everything the law requires of a driver involved in a collision – even if the driver was not at fault – can lead to a hit-and-run arrest.

Newport Beach Hit and Run cases are prosecuted under California Vehicle Codes 20001 and 20002. The Law Offices of Randy Collins represents drivers charged with these offenses.

To discuss defenses that might be available if you are accused of fleeing from an accident or failing to do everything the law required, call us at (844) 285-9559.

What’s a Hit and Run?

In California, hit and run is defined as fleeing the scene of an accident or denying to provide identification following an accident that injured something or someone. This is where the distinction occurs between misdemeanor and felony hit and run cases, which are further detailed below.

A misdemeanor Hit and Run occurs with injury to property only.

Failing to perform any required duty is a California misdemeanor if the driver:

  • Knew that they were involved in an accident that caused or probably caused property damage, and
  • The failure to perform the duty was willful

To prosecute for California Vehicle Code 20002, the state has the burden to prove that the following occurred:

  • A car crash happened
  • The offender was conscious that this accident took place
  • Property was damaged (e.g. building, cars, etc.)
  • The offender fled the scene, or
  • The offender refused to provide identifying documents

The penalties include:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • Up to 3 years of informal probation
  • Victim restitution
  • Up to 2 points DMV reduction on driver’s license

A felony hit and run occurs when the accident causes injury to someone.

The elements of the crime for Vehicle Code 20001 are the same, with the exception that someone else was injured instead of property.

The penalties include:

  • 16 months, or 2 or 3 years in prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Victim restitution
  • Up to 2 points DMV reduction on driver’s license

If the accident resulted in the death of someone else, the penalties for imprisonment are increased to 2, 3, or 4 years in prison.

These penalties and stipulations for both misdemeanor and felony hit and run are applicable to all drivers, regardless of who is at fault.

Duties Following a Hit and Run Accident

California hit and run law imposes several duties upon a driver who is involved in an accident that causes property damage or an injury. A driver is “involved” in an accident if they were logically connected to the accident, even if their vehicle did not collide with another vehicle, other property, or a person.

The duties do not depend upon whether the driver was at fault or whether the accident was avoidable. Any accident in which another person’s property is damaged, or another person is injured, triggers certain responsibilities for a driver who was involved in the accident.

When an accident causes property damage:

  • The driver must stop at the scene of the accident as soon as is reasonably possible under the circumstances.
  • The driver must provide the owner of the damaged property with their name and current residential address.
  • Upon request, the driver must show their driver’s license to the owner of the damaged property.
  • If the driver was not driving their own vehicle, the driver must provide the name and current residential address of the vehicle’s owner.
  • If the owner of the damaged property cannot be located immediately, the driver must leave the required information in a note that is placed conspicuously on the damaged property, and must promptly report the accident to the city police or (if the accident did not occur within city limits) to the Highway Patrol.

When an accident causes an injury to someone else, a driver must:

  • Stop at the scene of the accident as soon as is reasonably possible under the circumstances.
  • Provide reasonable assistance to every injured person.
  • Show their driver’s license, upon request, to the injured person(s) or to a law enforcement officer on the scene.
  • Provide the injured person or a police officer with the name and address of the owner of the vehicle and the registration number of the vehicle that the driver was driving.
  • Identify all occupants of the driver’s vehicle who were injured.
  • Promptly notify an appropriate law enforcement agency of the accident.

Most hit and run offenses involve collisions, but any driving that contributes to an accident triggers the duties described above. For instance, if you swerved into another driver’s lane, running that driver off the road and into a lamppost, you must stop and take the other actions described above.

Possible Hit-and-Run Defenses

Since “running” is not necessarily part of a “hit-and-run” charge, the defense will depend upon the facts, including those that the prosecution can or cannot prove.

Possible defenses include:

  • The accused did not know, and had no reason to know, that an accident occurred.
  • The accused did not know, and had no reason to believe, that injury and/or property damage occurred during the accident.
  • The accused was not driving.
  • The assistance that the accused provided to an injury victim, even if minimal, was reasonable under the circumstances.
  • The accused stopped when it was reasonable to do so under the circumstances (because stopping earlier would have been dangerous).
  • The accused made reasonable attempts to timely notify the police under the circumstances.
  • The accused made reasonable attempts to give the required information to the other person(s) involved in the accident but could not do so for reasons that were beyond the accused’s control.
  • The accused was injured in the accident and reasonably obtained medical care before reporting the accident.
  • The accused was unable to comply with their duties due to a loss of consciousness or other medical condition.
  • The accused complied with all duties and is being falsely accused of failing to do so.

Depending on the facts of the case, other defenses might also be available.

Help Fighting Your Hit and Run Charge

If you’ve been charged with a hit and run offense, the fear of “what could happen” can be paralyzing. We provide every caller and every client with the personal attention they need to feel secure.

If you’ve got questions, our hit and run lawyers are here to help during a free consultation. Contact the Law Offices of Randy Collins at (844) 285-9559 today.

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