Hit-and-run offenses in California involve a driver’s failure to stop and provide required information after being involved in a motor vehicle collision. The California Vehicle Code (CVC) distinguishes between two main types of hit-and-run offenses: misdemeanor hit-and-run and felony hit-and-run.
If you are being accused of causing a hit-and-run accident, it is imperative that you do not delay in seeking legal counsel from an experienced California criminal defense attorney at The Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo.
Misdemeanor Hit and Run (CVC 20002)
I. Elements of the Offense:
a. Misdemeanor hit and run occurs when a driver leaves the scene of an accident involving only property damage without providing the necessary information to the affected party or law enforcement. The driver must provide their name, address, vehicle registration number, and insurance information to the injured party or report the incident to local law enforcement.
II. Penalties Conviction for misdemeanor hit and run can lead to penalties such as fines of up to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to six months. Additionally, the defendant’s driving record may be affected, resulting in increased insurance premiums.
Felony Hit and Run (CVC 20001)
I. Elements of the Offense
a. Felony hit and run occurs when a driver leaves the scene of an accident involving injury or death to another person. The driver is required to provide aid to the injured party and report the incident to law enforcement. Failing to do so can result in felony charges.
II. Penalties: Conviction for a felony hit and run can result in more severe penalties, including significant fines, imprisonment for up to four years in state prison, and a felony record. The driver’s driving privileges may also be revoked, and they could face civil liabilities in addition to criminal consequences.
Aggravating Factors and Enhanced Penalties
I. Previous Convictions: Having prior hit-and-run convictions on one’s record can lead to enhanced penalties, including longer jail or prison sentences and higher fines.
II. DUI Involvement If a hit-and-run incident involves a driver who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they could face DUI charges in addition to hit-and-run charges. This can lead to even more severe consequences, as DUI offenses are heavily penalized in California.
Defenses to Hit and Run Charges
I. Lack of Knowledge: In some cases, the defendant may be unaware that they were involved in an accident. If the prosecution cannot prove that the defendant knowingly left the scene, this can serve as a defense.
II. Emergency Situations: If a driver leaves the scene of an accident to seek immediate medical attention for themselves or another person, it may be a valid defense, provided that they report the incident to law enforcement as soon as possible.
Seeking Legal Representation
Facing hit-and-run charges in California can be daunting, given the potential consequences and complexities of the legal process. It is crucial for individuals charged with hit-and-run offenses to seek experienced legal representation to navigate the legal system effectively.
At the Bruzzo Law Firm, our Orange County criminal defense attorney knows the law and can help you with your hit-and-run charges. The firm is dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients and providing expert legal guidance throughout the legal proceedings. If you or someone you know is facing hit-and-run charges, contacting the Bruzzo Law Firm can make a significant difference in building a solid defense strategy and securing the best possible outcome.