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Hit and Run

If you are facing hit and run charges while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, you are at risk of having severe punishments imposed on you, including fines and incarceration. Two kinds of hit and run charges may be brought along with a DUI charge. The first is a violation of California Vehicle Code 20001, where the hit and run involves physical injury. The other is a violation of California Vehicle Code 20002, where the hit and run involves property damage.

If your charges including either of the previous two kinds of hit and run, keep the following points in mind:

  • You do not have to be at fault to be charged with a hit and run. You can be charged with a hit and run when you leave the scene of the accident even if the other person was completely at fault. Remember, when in an accident, stay at the scene and provide the other driver with the necessary information.
  • If an accident involves an injury, you must provide the necessary information, even if the injured person was in your vehicle. This applies no matter if the other party or parties intend to file a report or not.
  • An exception where you are not required to provide the necessary information is when you leave the scene in order to seek medical treatment.

If you are facing DUI and/or hit and run charges, we recommend you consult with an attorney. Our attorneys at the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm have been advocating on behalf of individuals facing DUI and/or hit and run charges for almost 30 years. Our experienced defense attorneys have the skills and tools to build the best possible defense for your DUI and/or hit and run case. We highly recommend you contact our office to schedule a FREE consultation if you are facing DUI and/or hit and run charges.

Misdemeanor Hit and Run Pursuant CA Vehicle Code 20002

A hit and run offense can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor in California.

A misdemeanor hit and run is defined by the 3 following elements:

  1. Driver intentionally left the scene of the accident without providing identifying information about themselves to all parties involved;
  2. The accident results in another person’s property being damaged; and
  3. The driver knew another person’s property was damaged in the accident.

A misdemeanor hit and run only involves property damage, and does not include physical injury to another party to the accident. If the hit and run involves physical injury, the hit and run offense will be charged as a felony.

Most people are surprised to find out that this Vehicle Code makes it a hit and run, even when another individual at fault. For example, if another car hits you and you leave without providing the other party with the required information, you may be charged with a violation of CA Vehicle Code 20002. Also, the rule applies no matter what the resulting amount of the damage from the accident is. It does not matter if the damage is minimal, an individual still has a duty to stop. Additionally, the property damaged does not have to be to another vehicle, any property that is damaged suffices for hit and run purposes. So, if as a result of the accident, someone’s yard or fence is damaged, you may still be charged with a misdemeanor hit and run.

The Penalties for a Misdemeanor Hit and Run

The penalties for a misdemeanor hit and run can be quite severe. Usually, the penalties depend on the seriousness of the accident. An individual could face up to 6 months of incarceration, and/or fines amounting to $1,000.

Defenses for a Misdemeanor Hit and Run

Some defenses that can be argued by our attorneys in a hit and run case include:

  • The accident did not result in any property damage to another person’s property.
  • Driver had no knowledge the damage occurred.
  • The driver did not cause the accident.

Duties During a Hit and Run

California imposes 3 duties to a person when they are involved in an accident resulting in property damage:

  1. You must stop the car immediately; and
  2. An individual must provide your address and name to any other parties involved;
  3. If other parties at the scene of the crime ask for your license and registration, you have a duty to provide that information to them.

Moreover, if you do not own the car involved in the accident, you need to provide the owner’s name and address. Failing to adhere to any of these duties may result in a hit and run charge being filed against you.

Once again, even when the other driver caused the accident and was at fault, you still have a duty to adhere to the aforementioned duties.

Procedures in case the Other Party is not at the scene.

Usually, people ask how they can ensure they adhere to the aforementioned duties when the other party is not present at the site of the accident. Believe it or not, this is quite common, such as, when a driver hits a parked car in a parking lot. When the other party is not present at the scene of the accident, a driver must:

  • Place a note on the vehicle:
  • The note must include your name, address, and a description of the accident. The note must be placed in a location where the owner of the damaged vehicle will easily see it.
  • Contact the authorities:
  • An Individual who caused the damage to the other vehicle should call the local police to report the incident after leaving the note.

California Vehicle Code 20002 Definition of Hit and Run

As previously stated, 3 elements define a hit and run:

  1. Driver intentionally left the scene of the accident without providing identifying information about themselves to all parties involved;
  2. The accident results in another person’s property being damaged; and
  3. The driver knew another person’s property was damaged in the accident.

This crime looks at bad intentions of the driver during the incident. The driver needs to willfully and intentionally leave the scene after knowing the accident resulted in property damage to another’s property. Thus, there are numerous defenses that can be asserted in a hit and run case.

Defenses for Hit and Run

As stated above the most common defenses for hit and run cases are the following:

No Damage to the other party’s property.

Usually, most accidents only involve damage to one vehicle. In some cases, only the car of the driver who is at fault for the accident is damaged. A hit and run charge does not apply to those who were in an accident and only their vehicle was damaged. Also, if the accident involves someone’s property and the property is not damaged, you should not be convicted of a hit and run.

Driver had no knowledge the damage or accident occurred.

A hit and run offense requires that the driver flee the accident intentionally. It can be possible for an individual to be in an accident without realizing it. If your situation is similar to that mentioned above, you may not be convicted of a hit and run. However, if the accident resulted in a lot of damage to the other party’s property, this defense is not likely to be successful. On the other hand, this defense can be successful where the accident occurred in cases involving minor damages.

The driver did not cause the accident.

Many people allow their family members or friends drive their cars. Sometimes cars may be stolen. Usually, when there is an accident, witnesses can identify the car but not the driver. In order to be convicted of a hit and run the prosecution must prove that you were behind the wheel of the vehicle at the time of the accident beyond a reasonable doubt.

Misdemeanor Hit and Run Punishments

Violation of Vehicle Code 20002 punishments include:

  • Up to 6 months of incarceration;
  • Up to 3 years of probation;
  • Up to $1,000 in fines or penalties, sometimes both;
  • Addition of 2 points on your driving record; and/or
  • Restitution for damage caused to property.

California Penal Code 1377 – Civil compromise

A civil compromise occurs when a person can provide full restitution for the damaged caused to the other party’s property, resulting in the criminal charges possibly being dismissed. Civil compromises are most commonly found in a misdemeanor hit and run where the responsible party can pay for the damaged property. Civil compromises are also available at the discretion of the judge, and in cases where no aggravating factors are present, and the responsible party has a clean record. If a judge allows a civil compromise, the charges will be dropped after the responsible party provides full restitution to the injured party.

Felony Hit and Run Pursuant CA Vehicle Code 20001

As stated above, the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony hit and run, is the presence of physical injury. Thus, the elements of a felony hit and run are slightly different:

  1. Driver intentionally left the scene of the accident without providing identifying information about themselves to all parties involved;
  2. The accident results in another person being physically injured; and
  3. The driver knew another person was physically injured in the accident.

Sometimes, accidents can result in both property damage and physical injury. IN these cases, the defendant can be charged with both, a felony and a misdemeanor hit and run. These cases are usually characterized by noticeable property damage, but minor physical injuries that are harder to prove.

Do not let the name “felony hit and run” mislead you; the charge can be brought as a felony or a misdemeanor. Whether the charge is filed as a felony or misdemeanor is up to the prosecutor.

Felony Hit and Run Punishments

When the charge is brought as a felony, the punishments may include:

  • A possible fine, anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000;
  • 3 year state prison sentence;
  • Can be 4 years if accident resulted in serious injury or death.

Hit and Run with DUI

A DUI charge is often a misdemeanor charge. Sometimes, if aggravating factors exist, they may be charged as felonies. These factors are:

  • Injury to another person;
  • Fleeing the site of the accident;
  • Damage to property.

If a hit and run exists while driving under the influence, at least two of the aggravating factors will exist. Thus, in DUI cases, a hit and run may be seen as an aggravating factor.

Also, if you are under the influence when committing a hit and run, two criminal charges will be brought against you, 1) DUI and 2) the hit and run. Thus, on top of the penalties listed above, you may be charged with an aggravated DUI and face the punishments that charge carries. Like any DUI case, the court will decide the sentence you receive by considering numerous factors. Common punishments include:

Misdemeanor DUI Involving Physical Injury

  • A fine, anywhere from $350 to $5,000;
  • Probation period, anywhere from 3 to 5 years;
  • Suspended driver’s license, anywhere from 1 to 3 years;
  • Mandatory restitution to all injured parties.

Felony DUI Involving Physical Injury

  • A fine, anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000;
  • Incarceration in jail or prison for up to 4 years;
  • Time may be added if incident involved severe bodily injury;
  • Suspension of driver’s license of up to 5 years
  • A “strike” to be credited towards California’s “3 strike” law.

For a FREE Consultation contact the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm today.

At the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm we value giving a face-to-face diagnosis of a person’s case. We enjoy meeting each client and conducting an in person consultation. Contact the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm today if you have been charged with a DUI and/ or hit and run.

Contact our office today at 949-377-2280, for your FREE consultation.

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