A Comprehensive Guide to Charges for Hit and Run San Diego
A hit and run in San Diego can have serious consequences. Learn everything you need to know about the law here.
No one intends to commit a hit and run in San Diego. Unfortunately, sometimes, accidents happen. If you have outstanding warrants, a criminal record, or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may feel compelled to flee the scene. Perhaps you were so shocked and frightened by what just occurred; it may even be your natural reflex to keep driving and pretend nothing happened or hope that no one saw. However, with the number of people with cell phones and traffic cameras everywhere, you will likely get caught and face serious repercussions.
Hit and run accidents are those where at least one of the parties involved in the accident runs away from the scene without providing any information or help to the other parties or fails to report the accident. Usually, the drivers who believe they were at fault fled the scene due to fear of confrontation and hit and run charges. Leaving a California accident that you have been involved in is a crime, and you can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
If you are charged, factors like driving under the influence of alcohol, traffic violations, and a previous criminal record may impact the result of your case. Anyone who is arrested for leaving the scene of an incident, especially one involving a victim with serious injuries, requires the advice and counsel of an experienced criminal attorney, such as Patrick Griffin of Griffin Law Office, to have any hope of avoiding stiff penalties.
San Diego Hit and Run Facts
A San Diego hit and run accident can seriously impact your life, as well as the lives of anyone else involved, especially if there is an injury or serious damage to their vehicle. Per the AAA Foundation for Road Safety, one hit and run accident happens every 43 seconds in the United States. On a per-capita basis, California ranks 7th nationally in fatalities caused by hit and run accidents.
What Is Considered a Hit and Run in California?
Although most people think that a hit and run only involves incidents involving cars or people, many accidents can be prosecuted as a hit and run accident, including:
- Lamp posts
- Stop signs
A San Diego hit and run could involve any property. Many people see injuring or killing an animal as more significant than damaging property. Under California law, however, a pet is considered personal property.
What Happens in a Hit and Run?
Additionally, the officer will run your license plate, search your vehicle, advise you of your rights, and you will likely be arrested. If you were found to be drinking or otherwise impaired at the time of the incident, or if anyone in the other car, or a pedestrian, if they were walking, suffers an injury, the criminal case against you will be more severe.
Misdemeanor Penalties for A Hit and Run in CA
A California hit and run that just involved damage to residential or commercial property is usually charged as a misdemeanor crime. If somebody is found guilty of a misdemeanor hit and run, they can be sentenced to the following:
- Fine of up to $1,000
- Imprisonment in the county jail for approximately six months
Even a misdemeanor will provide you with a criminal record. That is why it’s so essential to have a lawyer represent you for this kind of offense.
When Does a Hit and Run Become a Felony Case?
You might face felony hit and run charges if a physical injury was an outcome of the accident. It is a more significant charge than a misdemeanor and liable to receive stronger repercussions. Penalties may include:
- Fine between $1,000 and $10,000
- Jail time of up to four years
You will likely have to negotiate with your insurance company and may even lose your driving rights. A skilled lawyer in the San Diego area can help you mitigate the charges of your crime.
Possible Hit and Run Defenses
There are several possible defenses your attorney may use that can be effective in any hit and run San Diego case. It is essential to understand which methods you can bring early on and which ones your lawyer should hold back until the trial.
If you are planning an alibi defense, it should be raised instantly so the prosecution will perform an examination. If your alibi checks out, the prosecution may dismiss the case. Other typical felony defenses brought at trial are:
- No injury or property damage.
- Someone else was driving, and you were not there.
- You were unaware that an accident resulting in injury or property damage occurred.
You may be able to prevent prosecution if you can work it out with the owner of the damaged property. If you can negotiate a civil compromise, you may not be prosecuted unless you have a bad driving record or were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In that case, this is unlikely to be an option. However, your attorney may still be able to argue a solid defense for you.
San Diego Hit and Run Accident
A San Diego hit and run accident can have life-altering consequences for both the victim and the driver. It is not just limited to an accident with a moving vehicle. If you accidentally crashed into a parked car on the street or ran into a person, you may face hit and run charges if you fled rather than stopping and taking responsibility for the accident.
Rather than walking away, you stop and contact an officer to take down the information regarding the incident, even if it is your fault, as you are less likely to get in trouble. However, if you leave the accident, you will be charged with a crime even if you have never been in trouble. A criminal attorney may be able to help you avoid penalties involved with misdemeanor or felony charges.
Statutes Regarding Hit and Run California
California Vehicle Code Section 20002 states that anybody involved in an accident that harms residential or commercial property while driving needs to stop at the closest area that does not hinder traffic or anyone’s security instantly. The motorist needs to figure out the owner of the damaged property and provide their personal information.
If the damaged property’s owner isn’t present, the driver should leave a note with their name and address and then inform the authorities as quickly as possible.
Hiring an Attorney to Fight a Hit and Run Ticket
If you are facing a hit and run ticket, time is of the essence. You have the right to a criminal attorney to help you reduce the charges, negotiate a plea agreement, or even have charges dropped. The defenses readily available to you depend upon your particular case, and a skilled lawyer can help you figure out the greatest defense available.
You may be able to show that your car was the only property harmed. To avoid more serious charges and penalties, you should contact the Griffin Law Office for a free consultation today.