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Fighting a Hit-and-Run Ticket

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One Very Good Reason to Fight a Hit-and-Run

There are many reasons to fight a hit-and-run ticket, but the very best reason to fight one is to avoid a criminal record. When you cause damage to property or injury to another person with your vehicle and leave the scene of the accident, you’ve committed a criminal offense. If convicted, you face severe penalties that could jeopardize your future. In addition, after conviction on a criminal charge, you could very likely face a civil suit for damages.

Two Types of Hit-and-Run Charges

There are two types of criminal charges when implicated in a hit-and-run accident., One is when there is property damage only, and the other is when there is bodily injury or death to another person. According to CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 20002, Accidents and Accident Reports, a driver involved in an accident or who directly or indirectly causes only damage to someone else’s property is “guilty of a misdemeanor” if they fail to stop as soon as it is safe to do so and notify the owner of said property.

Likewise, CVC 20001, also Accidents and Accident Reports, states that the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident, regardless of fault or degree of injury to anyone other than themselves, must stop as soon as it is safe to do so. Those who fail to do so and flee, if caught and convicted, are guilty of a felony. CVC 20003 outlines the requirements each driver must fulfill. Each driver must provide their name, address, identification/driver’s license, and insurance facts.

This section of the code also requires the at-fault driver to render aid or drive the injured party to the hospital if asked and their vehicle is still operational. Although the code does not require it, common sense dictates that whichever vehicle is functional should drive any injured person to the hospital when ambulance service is not available.

Most drivers, when caught, state that they left the scene of the accident because they got scared; they acted on impulse. Usually, it is because they were driving under the influence (DUI), unlicensed, or uninsured. Whatever the reason you might think it would be better to flee, it will only complicate the situation and cause more substantial penalties when caught. When you cause damage to another person’s property, and you cannot find the owner right away, leave a note with your information and report it to law enforcement right away.

Three Basic Defenses for a Hit-and-Run

There are usually three defenses that when true are very effective defenses for hit-and-run. The first is an obvious defense; you weren’t the one driving the vehicle at the time of the accident. Just because your vehicle was involved in an accident does not automatically implicate you; the state must prove you were the driver. The second is that you weren’t awarethat there was an accident. Depending on the circumstances, this could be a wobbler, but it may be true, and it might depend on a sharp attorney and/or your testimony to convince the court. Finally, when you thought the only damage was to your vehicle, or the driver of the other vehicle says, “Don’t worry about it,” but they later decide they should get compensation.

If convicted of a misdemeanor hit-and-run you could receive up to six months in jail or three years of probation, up to a $1,000 fine, restitution of property damage, and two NOTS points assessed by the DMV on your motor vehicle driving record (MVR).

The penalties for a felony conviction are much steeper, usually three years, but up to four years imprisonment for death or severe injury, up to a $10,000 fine, restitution of injuries (typically in a civil lawsuit), and two NOTS points.

Whether a misdemeanor or felony, consult with a traffic attorney immediately.

For a Hit-and-Run Charge, Consult with Bigger & Harman

When ticketed or implicated in a hit-and-run, call Bigger & Harman, who frequently represent clients in Tulare County Superior Court. Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, before making any statements to law enforcement officers about the incident for which you have been accused. It is never advisable to waive your right to an attorney when accused of a criminal misdemeanor or felony. Let Bigger & Harman determine when and if it is appropriate to give a statement. Se habla Español 661.349.9755.

Call or then send an email, today attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com. They will reply as soon as the office opens.

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References

CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 20001,20002, and 20003, Accidents and Accident Reports

The CA DMV Portal

The 2018 California Superior Court Bail Schedule for Infractions and Misdemeanors.pdf