Hit-and-run Attorney Referral Service

What Is Considered Hit-and-run in California?

California has two types of hit-and-run offenses. One is a misdemeanor and one is a felony.

Misdemeanor hit-and-run is when:

  • The driver leaves the scene of the accident;
  • Without first identifying him or herself to the other party/parties involved; and
  • Another’s property was damaged in the accident

The key difference is the fact that it has to do with whether property was damaged. If only property was damaged, it is a misdemeanor.

However, felony hit-and-run in California involves injury to another person, including a fatality. There is also an element requiring that the person knew or would have reasonably been expected to know that injury or death occurred.

Hit-and-run laws apply to every auto accident regardless of who was at fault, how much damage was inflicted, or how serious the injuries were.

The following behaviors could subject someone to a misdemeanor hit-and-run charge, even though they may not seem like it.

  • Driving away from an accident when the other driver was at fault
  • Driving away after hitting and damaging something on someone’s property, such as a fence
  • Driving away from an accident that you may have caused, even though your own car didn’t actually collide with another car

A misdemeanor hit and run charge carries severe penalties including a fine of up to $1,000 and a potential sentence of 6 months in jail.

If you are convicted of felony hit-and-run, penalties include a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000 and up to 3 years in state prison. However, up to 4 years in state prison can be required if the accident resulted in death or serious physical injury.

What If It Wasn’t Intentional?

You can still be charged with misdemeanor or felony hit-and-run in California even if it wasn’t intentional. However, there are a few defenses that you may raise to dispute the charges. These include:

  • Not realizing you were involved in a car accident
  • Not realizing that someone else’s property was damaged
  • Not knowing that you injured or killed someone
  • Not reasonably have known that you injured or killed someone

Otherwise, you are liable for hitting someone else or their property, causing damage, and leaving the scene. Consulting an attorney regarding the specifics of your case would be wise, especially if you did not intend to leave the scene or did not intend to cause the accident, damage the property that was damaged, or injure or kill another person.

An attorney will be able to tell you how successful your defense will be in court and whether you are truly at fault for what occurred.

How Can an Attorney Help Defend Me?

An attorney can help you with a hit-and-run charge in various ways. Sometimes there is a defense to the hit-and-run charge. For example, there may only be damage to your car or it was not you who was involved in the accident. Additionally, maybe you didn’t realize you had been involved in the accident or that someone else’s property was damaged as a result of the accident.

A hit-and-run attorney will evaluate your case based on its specific facts and ascertain whether you have a defense to the hit-and-run charges. Additionally, a hit-and-run attorney will most likely have handled many auto accident cases during his or her career. He or she will be able to determine whether your case will be successful and whether you will be able to avoid the charges.

If you case is unable to be resolved using a plea deal, your attorney will be skilled at trial work and will be able to handle your case competently if you have to go to trial. A hit-and-run attorney will prepare you for a trial and everything that goes along with it ensuring that you look as good as possible in front of a jury or judge.

Why Choose SFVBA to Find an Attorney?

Finding the right attorney is difficult. There are many attorneys in the San Fernando Valley area, and not all of them will fit your needs.

If you have been charged with a hjt and run and don’t know to whom you should turn, the SFVBA referral service can help you find the right criminal defense attorney to fit your needs. Call us today (818) 340-4529.