Under California Vehicle Code 20002, any driver who hits another vehicle must stop immediately. If the owner is not around, they must make every reasonable effort to find and notify them. However, if they cannot locate the person, the driver may leave a note with their full contact information. If the other driver is around, you must stay at the accident scene until police arrive.
If someone accuses you of leaving the scene of an accident, you must obtain a lawyer immediately. This is a severe charge and can lead to harsh penalties, even for first-time offenders. In California, Dod Law is a top source of legal representation and can defend you against a hit-and-run accusation.
What Are the Penalties for a California Hit-and-Run?
California hit-and-runs are a misdemeanor crime. If a court finds you guilty, you may serve up to six months in jail or up to three years of probation. You may also have to pay a fine of up to $1,000 in addition to restitution to the victim. You may also receive two points on your California driver’s license.
However, if you injure someone and leave the scene, the charge becomes a felony, and penalties become harsher. Fines increase to up to $10,000, and you may serve up to four years in prison. The extent of the punishment depends on the victim’s injuries.
Possible Defenses to a Hit-and-Run Charge
Your attorney will launch a full investigation into the claim to determine which defense is best. Remember that it will be hard to prove any of the following by yourself, so you must hire an experienced criminal attorney.
Responding to an Emergency
You might not have been able to stop because you were driving to the hospital or somewhere else because of an emergency, such as taking a woman in labor to the hospital or rushing to your child’s school because they were hurt.
There Were No Damages or Injuries
Knowledge of damage is an essential part of proving a case against you. For example, if you and the other driver examine both vehicles and do not see any damage, you may decide to leave the scene. Similarly, there might not be any visible injuries immediately following the accident. Your attorney might be able to use this defense if the other driver notices damage or sees an injury after you both leave the scene.
Damage Only to Your Car
Say you bump into a car backing out of a driveway. However, there’s only damage to your vehicle, so you decide to continue driving. Since you did not cause any harm to someone else’s property, it would be unfair for a court to convict you of the crime.
What Should I Do after a Car Crash?
No matter how responsible you were for the crash, leaving the scene may make you look guilty. If it’s safe to do so, pull over to the side of the road. This will keep you safe from another vehicle hitting you and causing more damage to your car.
You only have to call law enforcement after a California car accident that resulted in severe injury or death. You will then have 24 hours to submit a written report. However, we recommend contacting the police no matter what. Officers will file their reports, including any damage or injuries. This will ensure that the other driver cannot claim you fled the scene.
It’s also a good idea to take as many pictures of the accident as possible. This includes detailed shots of any damage to either vehicle. You should also take a photo of the positions of the cars, which might help prove who was responsible for the accident.
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in San Diego
When you’re facing a hit-and-run charge in California, reach out to Attorney Dod of Dod Law. With more than 17 years of experience handling criminal defense cases, he knows how to create a winning defense strategy.
With a 10.0 “Superb” rating by past clients, you can be confident that Attorney Dod will fight for you. He dedicates himself to achieving the best possible outcome for all of his clients, and the results speak for themselves. Call (619) 333-5134 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.