Hit-and-run seems self-explanatory, but California hit-and-run 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 who was involved in an accident – even if the driver was not at fault – can lead to a hit-and-run arrest.
In many cases, a hit-and-run charge results from a misunderstanding. Drivers do not always know that they were involved in accidents. Sometimes they comply with the law but are accused of disregarding it. Whenever a driver is accused of hit-and-run, mounting an appropriate defense is essential.
The Law Offices of Randy Collins represents drivers charged with hit-and-run in Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside County, San Diego, as well as other locations in Southern California. To discuss defenses that might be available if you are accused of fleeing from an accident scene or failing to do everything the law required, call The Law Offices of Randy Collins at (888) 250-2865.
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 the driver was logically connected to the accident, even if the driver’s 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, those duties are:
When an accident causes an injury to someone else, a driver must:
Failing to perform any required duty is a California misdemeanor if the driver:
Failure to perform any required duty is a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony if the driver:
An accident “causes” property damage or an injury when the accident is a substantial factor that contributes to the damage or injury. It need not be the only factor.
A failure to perform a duty is willful if it is purposeful. The prosecution is not required to show that the driver intended to break the law or to harm someone.
A misdemeanor involving property damage carries a possible sentence of 6 months in jail. A misdemeanor assault charge involving an injury carries a possible sentence of 1 year in jail.
A felony hit-and-run usually carries a maximum sentence of 3 years. The maximum increases to 4 years when the accident causes a death or permanent injury.
When an injury is involved, California law encourages judges to impose a sentence of at least 90 days in jail. Judges are especially likely to do that when the charge involves fleeing from the scene, as opposed to a technical violation of the law.
Since “running” is not necessarily part of a “hit-and-run” charge, the defense will depend upon the facts, including the facts that the prosecution can or cannot prove. Possible defenses include:
Other defenses might also be available, depending on the facts of the case.
Deciding upon an appropriate defense requires an investigation of the facts, an understanding of the law, and years of experience. California hit-and-run defense attorney Randy Collins gives clients the benefit of his skills and experience in all Southern California courts. If you have been charged with hit-and-run or fear that you might be, get advice by calling The Law Offices of Randy Collins at (888) 250-2865.