San Diego Hit-and-Run Attorney
In California, a hit-and-run takes place if you leave the scene of an accident without first identifying yourself to the other people involved. The experienced team at Ross Law Center will help guide you through the legal process if you are involved with a hit-and-run accident. Our experts are prepared to defend your rights and assist you with a FREE consultation.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Hit-and-Run
In California, a hit and run can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the situation.
Hit-and-run is a misdemeanor if no one else was hurt and only property has been damaged in the accident.
Hit-and-run is considered a felony offense if a person, other than yourself, is injured or killed.
It’s important to note that you can be charged with hit-and-run even if only some of the criteria constituting a hit-and-run are fulfilled.
Example: If you stop after a hit and run incident, but do not provide the other party with your identification, you may still be charged.
A hit-and-run misdemeanor charge can affect many people who have no criminal history and might not even know that they have committed an offense.
Examples: You may be charged with a hit-and-run misdemeanor if you drive away from a fender-bender situation even if the other driver was at fault.
You may also be charged if you drive away from the scene of an accident that you may have caused even if you didn’t actually hit another car or person.
What are the penalties for hit-and-run in San Diego?
A hit-and-run charge carries very steep penalties in the state of California. If convicted of a hit-and-run misdemeanor, you may face a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) plus court-assessed penalties, restitution to any other party whose property you damaged, and/or a possible jail sentence of up to six (6) months. If it is a felony charge, you may face a fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or up to four (4) years in California state prison.
What are my responsibilities if I get into a car accident?
You have three specific duties if you are involved in a car accident in California, regardless of who’s at fault. Failure to complete any of these tasks may result in a hit and run charge.
1. You must stop your vehicle immediately.
2. Provide your identifying information, including your name and current address, to the other person or people involved.
3. If there are other people involved (as opposed to a one car accident), you must also provide your driver’s license and vehicle registration upon request.
4. If you are not the owner of the vehicle, you must also provide identifying information for the vehicle’s registered owner.
It’s important to note that even if no one else was involved (e.g. you hit a parked car), you must provide your identifying information. If this happens, you are required to do the following.
1. Leave a note in a visible place that provides your identifying information as well as a complete summary of what happened.
2. Immediately contact your local police department.
Why do I need an attorney if I’m accused of a hit-and-run?
Considering the severity of the penalties for a hit-and-run offense, it is imperative that you contact Ross Law Center as soon as possible if you are involved in a hit-and-run situation. There are several legal defenses that we can use to help you reduce or eliminate your charges. We would work to establish that:
• you were not the person driving your car during the accident.
• you did not knowingly flee the scene, or fail to provide identifying information.
• you were unaware that the accident occurred or that anyone was injured or that property was damaged.
• the accident resulted in injury only to yourself, or damage to only your vehicle.
Additionally, your attorney may be able to help you reach a civil compromise to reduce charges. This is when a hit-and-run driver works out a deal with the victim to pay for damages. This compromise can then be used in court to show that the victim has been appropriately compensated and the case can be dismissed. The court may not necessarily agree with a complete dismissal, but a civil compromise is a valuable tool for negotiation when dealing with the severe consequences that a hit-and-run driver might face.
A hit-and-run can turn your world upside down. If convicted, you may be facing heavy fines and/or prison time as well as permanent marks on your record or loss of employment. If this happens to you, please contact our experts at Ross Law Center, who have been handling hit-and-run cases for over twenty years and are prepared to use their extensive experience and resources to get you a successful outcome.
We have offices in San Diego and in Vista. Please contact us at (858) 805-5772.