Articles Posted in HIt & Run

A bill recently signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown requires California’s public alert system to help in the effort to track down hit-and-run drivers. The new law uses emergency “yellow alerts” to broadcast the key details of fleeing hit-and-run vehicles. On digital freeway signs, the car’s color, make, model and license plate will be displayed in real-time. Hit-and-run collisions are on the rise, and especially in Southern California. In major cities like Los Angeles, nearly half of vehicular collisions involve a driver that flees the scene.  In 2014 alone, drivers of about 20,000 accidents left the scene and only 20 percent of the cases were ever solved.  According to state lawmakers that is about to change. In Colorado, this same program of “yellow alerts” quickly increased the arrest rate to 76 percent in hit-and-run cases. So what is a hit-and-run?

There are two types of hit-and-run crimes in California.  Penal Code 2001 applies to vehicle collisions that result in an injury or fatality, while Penal Code 2002 applies to accidents that result in damage to any property that is involved.  Both statutes require that any driver who is in an accident must immediately provide his or her name and current residence to the other driver. A hit and run crime involving any form of injury is punishable by fines between one thousand and ten thousand dollars and up to 4 years incarceration in state prison.  A hit and run crime involving only damage to property and no injury, is punishable by a fine of up to one thousand dollars and six months of county jail time.

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A 30 year old woman has pleaded not guilty to charges that she hit a pedestrian and left the scene of an accident in Garden Grove on December 28, 2011. It was reported that the woman hit a 54 year old man and as she fled the scene, another car hit the man and drug him several feet. The second car stopped and spoke to investigators at the scene. The man was listed in serious condition. The 30 year old woman turned herself in a day later.

In California, you may be charged with misdemeanor hit and run if you: 1) leave the scene of an accident; 2) without first identifying yourself to the other party or parties involved, and 3) another’s property was damaged in the accident. Hit and run becomes more serious when charged with DUI, significantly increasing the need for an experienced DUI defense attorney.

There are two types of hit & run offenses in California, misdemeanor and felony. The difference between a misdemeanor hit and run and a felony hit and run is that a misdemeanor deals with property damage whereas the felony charge deals with injury. You may be charged with a felony hit and run if someone other than yourself was injured.

In order to be convicted of misdemeanor hit and run, the prosecutor must prove that: 1) you were involved in an accident that resulted in another’s property being damaged; 2) that you knew an accident had occurred; and 3) that you were involved in the accident where either you knew property was damaged, or that the accident was of such a nature that it was probable that another’s property was damaged, and that you failed to perform the duties required when involved in an accident. It becomes a felony if injury or death to another resulted from the accident.

Some defenses to hit and run include: 1) that you lacked knowledge either about your involvement in the accident or about the injuries; and/or 2) that it wasn’t you who was involved in the accident. An attorney experienced in defending hit and run cases knows that eyewitness accounts are rarely accurate when remembering the chain of events, which can lead to a person being wrongly accused. Visiting the scene of the accident and exploring the possibility of employing an accident reconstruction expert, are some of the things a good defense attorney should do.

Being charged with a felony hit and run can be extremely overwhelming to face without the help of an attorney who has experience with hit and run cases. The goal of a good attorney will be to have the case dismissed. But, at the very least, looking at the charges independently, getting any felony charges reduced to misdemeanors and getting one or more of the misdemeanor charges dropped, will ensure the best outcome.

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