Being involved in a hit and run accident is a very serious situation. You need to recognize that if you are involved in an accident that causes either injury to a person or property damage (including car damage, or other physical property), and you leave the scene of the accident you run the risk of being charged with a hit and run offense.
Types of Hit and Run in California
In California, there are two general types of hit-and-run crimes:
1. Vehicle Code 20001 applies to vehicle accidents involving injury or death; and
2. Vehicle Code 20002 applies to accidents involving only damage to property.
San Diego Hit and Run
There are some considerations that need to be taken into account if you have been involved in a hit and run, regardless of what side of the incident you are on.
You Could Be Charged for Hit and Run
Even if the accident was not your fault, if you decide to leave the scene of an accident without providing contact information to the other driver, you can be charged with a hit and run. You are always legally required to stop if you are in an accident and provide contact information to the other driver before you leave the scene.
Potential Felony for Hit and Run
Vehicle Code 20001 is applicable even if the only person injured in the accident was the passenger in your car. This means that felony charges can be brought if you leave the scene of the accident without providing information to the other driver.
Leaving To Seek Necessary Medical Attention For Yourself Or Someone Else
If you left the scene of the crime to seek necessary medical attention for yourself or someone else prior to providing information to the other driver involved in the accident, you may be justified in leaving the scene. You will need to prove that this was the case though, which can be very difficult to prove.
Misdemeanor Hit And Run
Vehicle Code 20002 applies accidents involving any kind of property damage. “Property” is inclusive of not just damage to another vehicle, but also damage to any type of property, including: fences, signs, mailboxes, and even people’s pets.
Resolve Misdemeanor Hit And Run Case With A Civil Compromise
Under Penal Code 1377, certain misdemeanor offenses, such as hit and run accidents involving property damage, can be resolved with a civil settlement instead of criminal punishment. In this instance, the other driver would need to agree to a civil settlement. This can often mean less harsh punishments instead of probation or jail time.
If you have been charged with hit-and-run you will want to work with a criminal defense lawyer that is skilled in defending these types of cases.
Being Charged with Hit and Run
If you are involved in an accident that causes injury or property damage, and you decide to leave the scene of the accident without first providing your contact information to the other driver or property owner involved in the accident, you could be charged with a hit & run offense.
Under statutes VC 20001 & VC 20002, any driver involved in an accident must immediately provide his or her name and current residence to the other driver involved in the accident.
Penalties for Hit and Run
For hit and run accidents involving injury, penalties range from fines between $1000 and $10,000 and incarceration in state prison for a period of up to four years.
For hit and run accidents involving only damage, penalties range from a fine of up to $1000 and up to six months incarceration in county jail.
Accused of Hit and Run
Chances are if you are accused if a hit and run, you will be interrogated by the police. You’ll want to understand what rights you are afforded.
Miranda Rights and Police
In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miranda v. Arizona, that individuals arrested because they are believed to have committed a crime are allowed certain rights that must be explained to them. This must happen before any interrogation. It’s important to note that these rights only need to be read when a person has been taken into custody. “Miranda Rights” are meant to protect a suspect from self-incrimination and is protected under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Those “Miranda Rights” are as follows:
- You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions.
- Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish.
- If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney.
- Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present?
Interrogations by Police
Regardless of if you are informally interrogated by a police officer (such as during a pullover for a traffic violation) or formally interrogated for a crime, remember that there are specific laws that protect you. An officer will use any number of tactics to get a confession from you, regardless of you are guilty or not. It has been shown in clinical research that these tactics are effective in getting confessions from people who are later exonerated by DNA, and thus have always been innocent.
There are two key things to remember if you are being interrogated:
Interrogations are set up and conducted to produce confessions - even from the innocent The best way to protect yourself is to remain quiet about anything. Do not make a statement without first talking to a criminal defense attorney. The best way to not incriminate yourself is to not say anything at all.
If You End Up In Jail for a Crime Such as a Property Crime
If you are detained in jail, remember there are still ways to incriminate yourself. There are some general guidelines you should follow, including the following:
- Do not discuss anything over the phone. This is often recorded and can be overheard.
- Do not discuss with fellow in-mates. Remember that anyone in jail is looking for a way out. That could include providing information about you in order to improve their position with the state.
- Do not make statements or answer questions without an attorney present.
- Never waive your rights to something without first speaking with an attorney.
- Know how to be steadfast with your requirement that an attorney be present during any interrogation or questioning.
Jail and Bond
Unless you are dealing with a minor charge, your bond will probably not be set until you appear before a judge during an arraignment. An arraignment is the first part of courtroom-based proceedings. This is what happens during an arraignment:
- The person charged goes before a criminal court judge
- The judge reads the charges against the person
- The judge asks the person if he or she has an attorney or if they need the assistance of a court-appointed attorney
- The judge asks the person if they will plead “guilty,” “not guilty,” or “no contest.”
- The judge sets a bail amount, if necessary
- The judge announces the date of the future proceedings, such as a preliminary hearing, pre-trial motion, or trial.
During an arraignment, you want to make sure you have the best possible outcome from your case. Ensure that you understand everything that you are being charged with. Make sure you have received counsel.
Working with a Criminal Defense Attorney
Criminal charges can be complex, requiring much gathering of evidence and information. It’s highly advised that you work with an experience criminal defense attorney that will be able to advise you on the best defense.
Working with Sevens Legal Criminal Lawyers
If you or loved ones is accused or charged with any type of crime call us. Let us support and help you during this tough time. Our firm award winning attorneys provides hope and peace of mind. The Sevens Legal Criminal Lawyers office is located in both San Diego and Escondido. We have time and time again helped Southern California residents get their cases dismissed or penalties reduced.
Criminal Defense Attorneys
3555 4th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: (619) 297-2800