A "hit and run" traffic accident may be a violation of the California Vehicle Code Section 20001, which can result in a felony charge, or CVC 20002, which is usually a misdemeanor.
Both statutes require that any driver of any vehicle involved in an accident is required to stop at the scene. The infraction results if a driver leaves the scene of an accident (whether they caused the accident or not) and does not identify themselves to other drivers who were involved.
Vehicle Code Section 20003 states that any driver involved in any accident shall give their name, address, name and current addresses of any injured persons in either vehicle or outside the vehicle that may have been injured as a result of the accident. The driver must also render any reasonable assistance and aid to any injured persons.
Under Vehicle Code Section 20002, the driver of the vehicle involved in any accident resulting in damage to property shall stop the vehicle at the nearest location that would not impede traffic or otherwise jeopardize the safety of other motorists. Under CVC 20001, the rules include any accident that results in personal injury or death.
Although CVC 20001 is often called "felony hit and run," the crime itself can be charged as a "wobbler" - either a felony or a misdemeanor. This means that the prosecutor has a choice, which is always dependent upon the facts of the charge and the defendant's criminal history. Here are the differences:
Hit and Run misdemeanor:
The maximum penalty is a fine between $1,000 and $10,000. Depending upon the charges, the defendant can also see up to one year in county jail. If there is a death, a permanent or serious injury, the defendant will probably serve a minimum of 90 days in jail.
Hit and Run felony:
In California, defendants face a fine of $1,000 and $10,000, plus 16 months to 3 years in state prison. If there is a death, a permanent or serious injury as a result of the accident, the defendant faces 2 to 4 years in state prison.
If you have been charged with either CVC 20001 or 20002, it is absolutely vital that you seek legal help immediately. There are defenses for this charge, but it takes time to research the circumstances and develop a legal strategy to ensure that the penalties are not excessive.
The Law Offices of Stull & Stull has many years of experience with hit and run cases. Most hit and run cases are generally not considered intentional, but are usually due to circumstances beyond the driver’s control, such as being unable to stop at a safe location.
We have gotten many “hit and run” cases dismissed because we have successfully negotiated "Civil Compromises" that are allowed under Penal Code Section 1377 and Penal Code Section 1378. These sections allow for the victim of a hit and run to be satisfied civilly (usually by payment of money to the victim) and for the case to be dismissed in court.
Please contact us immediately if you have been accused or charged with a hit and run violation so we may discuss possible defenses and resolutions for you. The initial consultation is free.
There are many issues involved in all cases, and if you call the Law Offices of Stull & Stull, we can discuss them all with you. Don't take your freedom for granted. Get professional legal help as soon as you possibly can to plan a defense strategy. Remember that the initial consultation is free.