Los Angeles Hit-And-Run’s The Subject Of ’20/20′ Investigation

If you have lived in Los Angeles for any amount of time, let alone visited for more than a day, you know that LA has its fair share of cars and traffic.  What you also probably know is that with that amount of traffic, Los Angeles’ hit-and-run incidents far exceed the national average.  In fact, in 2009, 48% of crashes in Los Angeles were hit-and-runs, compared to a national rate of 11%.

ABC’s ’20/20′ ran a piece which focused on Los Angeles Police Department Detective Felix Padilla, who has been working in LAPD’s traffic division for over 10 years.  Padilla told ABC that his division alone sees an average of 8,000 hit-and-run incidents a year and that in 2013, there have already been 16 fatal hit-and-runs incidents.

The problem for law enforcement in a hit-and-run investigation is that an arrest and prosecution hinge on eyewitness testimony and many do not want to cooperate with the police.  Padilla talked about how the LAPD can impound the car during an investigation, but that doesn’t mean much if they don’t have the driver identified.

Another problem for the LAPD is Los Angeles’ large number of undocumented immigrant residents, many of whom drive a car even though they cannot legally obtain a license.  If they get into an accident, many fear criminal prosecution and deportation and decide to flea the scene.

If you have been involved in a hit-and-run in Los Angeles, it is important that you contact an attorney before answering any questions by law enforcement or before you make any statements.  Many times people are scared of what has happened and will try to “talk their way out” of getting arrested or charged with hit-and-run, which never happens and often leads to incriminating statements used in the incident report that prosecutors see.  What you should do is allow your attorney to communicate with law enforcement on your behalf to not only avoid those pitfalls, but see if there is a way to avoid any charges being filed.

If misdemeanor hit-and-run charges do end up getting filed, it is important that you talk to your attorney about the possibility of a civil compromise or getting your hit-and-run charge reduced to a non-point traffic infraction.  Many times your attorney can work with the victim outside of the courtroom to achieve these desired results and a reduction or dismissal of your criminal charges.

If you have been arrested or charged with a hit-and-run in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Downtown, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills or Burbank, contact attorney Ross Erlich 24/7 for a free consultation.

Venice Car Rampage Suspect Pleads Not Guilty At Airport Court

Nathan Campbell, accused of ramming pedestrians on the Venice boardwalk over the weekend and killing one, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to one count of murder, 16 counts of assault with a deadly weapon and 17 counts of hit-and-run.

Campbell was in custody in front of Airport Court felony arraignment judge Keith Schwartz who set bail at $1.48 million.  Campbell is currently being represented by a Los Angeles County Public Defender who told press he does not believe his client intended to kill anyone.

For those unfamiliar with this incident, Campbell was arrested after police say he intentionally drove his car around barriers on the Venice boardwalk and aimed his car at pedestrians.  One woman was killed as a result of the impact.

It has since been discovered that Campbell has had arrests in Colorado and Florida for shoplifting and reckless drivings under the influence of alcohol.  Further details reveal that Campbell may have been living out of his car and has ties with the homeless community in Malibu.

Campbell is facing some serious charges at the Airport Courthouse and, if convicted, could be facing life in prison.

If you have been arrested for assault with a deadly weapon or hit and run in the Airport Courthouse, it is important for you to consult with an attorney before making any statements to the police or other law enforcement personnel.  Communicating (through your attorney) with law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office early may help you either avoid having any charges filed against you or get a reduction in what would have been originally charged.  Sometimes hit-and-run’s can be resolved through a civil compromise which permanently suspend criminal proceedings against the accused.

Serious charges requires a serious criminal defense attorney.  If you have been charged with a crime in the Airport Court, CCB, Criminal Courts Building, Pasadena Court or any other court in Los Angeles County, contact attorney Ross Erlich 24/7 for a free case consultation.

Hit-And-Run Suspect Held After Injuring Mother And Toddler

A 70-year-old man is in custody after police say he failed to stop his car after hitting a woman and her toddler with his SUV in the North San Fernando Valley last week.

Witnesses at the scene told police officers that the toy car the toddler was in was pushed by the man’s car for approximately one block before bystanders flagged down and stopped the driver.

The man was driving his car without a license and was arrested on suspicion of felony hit and run, a violation of California Vehicle Code section 20001.

Witnesses at the scene also told officers that it appeared the man was unaware that he was pushing the toy car with the toddler inside of it and that he only drove approximately one block.

California Vehicle Code section 20001, more commonly known as felony hit and run, is a “wobbler” in the state of California.  This means the prosecutor can charge this crime as either a felony or a misdemeanor, usually depending on the facts of the case and the suspect’s prior criminal record.

If the hit and run is charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant is looking at a maximum of 1 year in the county jail and a $1,000 fine.  If the accident resulted in death or some other serious injury, jail time is usually always sought.

If the hit and run is charged as a felony, the defendant is looking at a fine between $1,000 and $10,000 and between 16 months to 3 years in state prison.  If there was death or serious injury, typically the state prison commitment goes up to between 2 to 4 years.

If you have been in an accident in California, you are required by state law to stop your car, identify yourself and provide your license, insurance, registration or any other relevant documents to the other driver.

If you have been arrested for, or charged with, a hit and run in the Los Angeles area, it is important to contact an attorneybefore making ANY statements to law enforcement.  After years of experience handling hit and run cases, I have only seen these statement come back to hurt people’s cases.  Contacting an attorney early on in the process can help facilitate a civil compromise or other possible resolution to your case which can avoid a conviction on your record and points on your license.

If you have been involved in a hit and run in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Pasadena, Burbank or any other part of Los Angeles County, contact attorney Ross Erlich today for a free consultation.

Hit-And-Run Death Gets Driver 21 Years

A young man was sentenced Tuesday in the Van Nuys Courthouse to 21 years in prison resulting from the death of a pedestrian who was hit in a crosswalk last year.

Ernesto Lopez, 20, pleaded guilty to one count of voluntary manslaughter, evading a law enforcement officer with willful disregard, leaving the scene of an accident, resisting an executive officer, grand theft auto and admission of gang allegations that enhance any sentence given.

Law enforcement officers were chasing Lopez, who was driving a stolen car, when the officers were ordered to stop the pursuit due to unsafe speeds, running of red lights and stop signs.  Shortly thereafter, Mr. Lopez hit a pedestrian crossing Topanga Boulevard and eventually jump out of the car and attempt to flee on foot.  The pedestrian later died at the hospital.

What Mr. Lopez failed to realize is that he would be much better off if he simply stopped when the police first requested and hired an attorney.  Even if the vehicle you are in is stolen, you putting yourself in worse position by attempting to evade police officers and, as in this case, injuring or killing an innocent victim during your evasion.  Many people fail to realize that with police and news helicopters these days, it is nearly impossible to successfully “run from the police,” and that attempting to usually results in additional criminal charges and longer potential jail or prison time.

If you have been charged with hit-and-run, evading a police officer, or grand theft auto in Downtown Los Angeles, the Criminal Courts Building, the Metropolitan Courthouse or the Airport Courthouse, contact attorney Ross Erlich before you walk into the courtroom.  As mentioned in previous blogs, many times attorney Ross Erlich can get the charges reduced or even dismissed through a civil compromise or even an informal diversion program.

What To Do If You Are Arrested For A Hit & Run

Los Angeles is home to one of the highest populations of motorists in the world.  If you live here, or have visited, you will know that it is nearly impossible to exist in this city without driving a car.  One of the unintended consequences of driving so often is car accidents, be it minor or a serious accident with injuries.  This article will give you an idea of what to expect if you have been charged with a hit-and-run and what some possible outcomes can be.  Remember, if you’ve been arrested or charged with a hit-and-run, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible to reduce any punishment by the court and don’t just go to court and plea guilty.

Failing to stop at the scene of an accident is a violation of California’s Vehicle Code section 20002 as a misdemeanor or section 20001 as a felony.  According to the law, a hit-and-run occurs when the driver leaves the scene of an accident without identifying yourself to the party or parties involved when there has been damage to the property or person of the other party.  The major difference between a misdemeanor and felony hit-and-run is whether there is damage only to property or whether the other party was injured as a result of the accident.

Some of the relevant factors for a prosecutor to consider if you have been charged with a hit-and-run is how serious the accident was, the extent of the property damage, any injuries, how serious were the injuries, did insurance compensate the victim, did the defendant have any prior record and did the at-fault party have a valid California driver’s license at the time of the accident.  A misdemeanor hit-and-run carries a punishment of up to $1,000 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, restitution to the victim and 2 points on your license.

One of the most desired outcomes if you have been formally charged with hit-and-run in Los Angeles is a civil compromise.  Under California Penal Code sections 1377 and 1378, a judge may stay or stop a criminal action and discharge the defendant when a civil compromise has been reached between the defendant and the victim.  In other words, if the responsible party has made all restitution and paid the victim for all of their out of pocket expenses, the judge may, in essence, dismiss the case against the defendant.  There will not be any conviction on the defendant’s record and all criminal action will be permanently stopped.

Another outcome that can be achieved in a hit-and-run case is, if the property damage is not too high or has been paid for by the defendant, is the reduction in charge from a misdemeanor hit-and-run to an infraction.  Prosecutors will sometimes agree to either reduce the charge to a disturbing the peace infraction or even to California Vehicle Code section 16028 as an infraction (failure to show evidence of financial responsibility).  This result not only avoids a misdemeanor conviction on someone’s record, it avoids the 2 point penalty on their license as well.

If you have been cited or arrested for hit-and-run in Los Angeles, LA City, Beverly Hills, LAX, Airport, Metropolitan Court, Downtown, the Westside, Hollywood or North Hollywood, contact attorney Ross Erlich today for a free case consultation at (323) 222-4529.

Guilty Plea taken in local hit-and-run death

A Canoga Park man pleaded guilty last week to one count of each of voluntary manslaughter, evading a police officer with willful disregard, leaving the scene of an accident, grand theft auto and admission of a gang enhancement.

This guilty plea stemmed from an incident where police officers were pursuing the defendant in a stolen vehicle when the defendant struck and killed a pedestrian walking in a crosswalk.  At the time of the collision, officers had already called off the pursuit temporarily due to the defendant’s high rate of speed on city streets and failure to stop at multiple right lights and stop signs.  The plea was taken in front of Judge Karen Nudell in the Van Nuys Superior Courthouse with sentencing set for April 30.

If you have been involved in a traffic collision, you are obligated under state law to stop and identify yourself to the other party, regardless of who was at fault.  If you fail to do so, you run the risk of being arrested for hit-and-run or having an active warrant issued for your arrest.  If you find yourself in this position, the first thing to do would be to contact an aggressive criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.

Attorney Ross Erlich has represented numerous clients in hit-and-run cases at the Airport Courthouse and Metropolitan Courthouse and is familiar with the strategies and techniques that ensure the best possible outcome for you, the client.  One of these techniques is to get your hit-and-run charged dismissed outright   This is made possible under California Penal Code sections 1377 and 1378 which allows a judge to dismiss the charges, and avoid any conviction, when the victim has been fully compensated for their loss.  This is more commonly referred to as a civil compromise.

Hit-and-run cases are taken very seriously by prosecutors since they involve the damage and possible injury to the victim while the other party leaves the scene.  Thus, penalties for hit-and-runs may include jail time, up to $10,000 in fines and restrictions or a suspension of your driver’s license.

If you have been charged with a hit-and-run in Los Angeles, contact attorney Ross Erlich for a free consultation and to discuss what options are available to you.

Fatal hit-and-run suspect turns himself in

The suspect involved in the fatal hit-and-run accident that occurred on Saturday night in Koreatown has turned himself in to authorities on Monday evening. On Saturday night, a 42 year-old man was hit at the intersection of Olympic and Norton and pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

Pursuant to California Vehicle Code section 20002, any driver that is involved in a collision that results in any damage must stop at the nearest location so as not to impede traffic and make contact with the other party involved. Each party is also responsible for exchanging driver’s license information, registration information and valid insurance information in order to comply with California law.

Failure to stop, notify the other party or exchange this information can lead to an arrest or a notice to appear for a court date for a misdemeanor violation of California Vehicle Code section 20002.

If you have been charged with a hit-and-run it is important to contact Attorney Ross Erlich immediately. The earlier the work is started on your case, the more options there are available for you. Taking action early on a hit-and-run can lead to dismissals of the charges, civilly compromising the matter with the victim or possible reduction of the charges to avoid negative impact on your driving record.

If you have been arrested, cited or have questions regarding a hit-and-run in Beverly Hills, the LAX/Airport area, at the Metropolitan Courthouse or anywhere in Los Angeles county, contact attorney Ross Erlich at (323) 222-4529.

You can also contact attorney Ross Erlich here.