A hit and run means that a driver whose car hit another vehicle, individual, or object, did not stop. In California, the law requires that you stop after any type of accident to share necessary information with other parties involved and show your ID to traffic or police officers present at the scene.
Reasons for a hit and run include:
- Being scared, especially if the accident is severe
- Immigration status
- Lack of insurance
- DUI due to alcohol or other substances
- Existence of an arrest warrant
- Presence of illegal items in the car, such as drugs or guns
To prove a hit and run case, a prosecutor must establish that you were involved in the accident, and you did not stop and provide your information. The charge does not require you to be at fault, only that you were involved. If you left the scene of the accident and you knew someone was injured, or likely to be. Injured, you could be facing a felony charge. They also need to confirm that you did not provide assistance or identification at the accident scene as California law requires you to do.
No matter the reason why you fled the scene of an accident, you should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you.
Potential Consequences of a Hit and Run Conviction in California
The seriousness of the hit and run, especially if someone is injured or killed because of the accident, can impact your case and increase the penalties you may face. If the hit and run caused death, you could be charged with vehicular manslaughter too.
Depending on your hit and run case, the penalties can include:
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Felony charge
- Community service
- Several years in prison
- Loss of your driver’s license
- DMV classes
- Vehicle impoundment
A hit and run conviction, especially in combination with vehicular manslaughter, can result in a criminal record for life.
The Importance of Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are under investigation for a hit and run, you should hire a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the jurisdiction where the accident happened. This maximizes your lawyer’s chances of successfully defending you.
Understanding what happened is the first step so your attorney can start building your defense. They can look into negotiating for your insurance to pay for the other person’s vehicle repairs or explore the possibility of a civil compromise to avoid a trial. If you can settle the case outside of court, it helps you avoid jail and preserve your record.
Your criminal defense attorney can establish one or more of the following elements:
- You were not driving the vehicle that caused the accident
- You provided the required information to other people involved at the accident site right after it happened
- You did not cause any harm to the other party or any damage to their property
- You did not willfully leave the accident scene or fail to provide information
If your hit and run case goes to trial, a criminal defense attorney can represent you before the court and work towards a dismissal of the charges or a reduction of penalties.
Do you need legal representation to defend yourself against hit and run charges? Contact West Coast Defense today at (800) 922-6989 to schedule an appointment in Long Beach or Huntington Beach.