The Basics

By law, “the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to any property, including vehicles, shall immediately stop the vehicle at the nearest location that will not impede traffic or otherwise jeopardize the safety of other motorists.”  See California Vehicle Code section 20002.

If the other party is not in their vehicle at the time, the at-fault driver shall leave a note containing their personal contact information in an easily discoverable area on the unoccupied vehicle.

Keep in mind, the prosecutor needs to prove that 1) you were driving, 2) you were involved in an accident that caused damage to someone else’s property, 3) you knew, or reasonably should have know, that you were involved in an accident, and 4) that you willfully failed to stop at the scene and exchange insurance and identification information with the other party(s).

Many people fail to realize that even if you were in a minor traffic collision that was not your fault and you leave the scene, you can be charged with a misdemeanor hit and run.  Thus, if you were hit by another vehicle that was at-fault, but you proceeded to leave the scene without identify yourself and exchanging insurance information with the other driver, you could be prosecuted for a hit and run.

Felony vs. Misdemeanor

A hit and run can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, with the biggest deciding factor between the two being if someone was injured as a result of the accident.

A felony hit and run occurs when you are involved in an accident and flee the scene knowing that an injury likely occurred.

Thus, if someone is seriously injured, you can expect police and the prosecutor’s office, to treat the incident as felony conduct.

Some things to know…

Many hit and run incidents start with local law enforcement calling the person who committed the hit and run and asking them to “come into the station” so that the officers can finish their report and get some additional information.  What people forget is that law enforcement is, in reality, asking you to come down to get interrogated by a detective who will put pressure on you to admit guilt and make an incriminating statement.

The reality is, you are under no obligation to go down to the station, to make any kind of statement and, depending on the facts, you should have your attorney call the detective back and say no thank you.  Remember, you have the Constitutional right to remain silent and the right against self-incrimination.  That means that no matter how badly law enforcement wants you to come down and just “straighten some things out”, you are absolutely not obligated to do so.

The first thing you need to do if you have been contacted by the police department regarding an accident in which you were involved is call Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich and set up a free consultation.  If you retain Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Ross Erlich early enough in the process, our office may be able to resolve the matter in a way that keeps your criminal record clean and prevents criminal charges from ever being filed.  Time is very much of the essence when it comes to obtaining representation for a hit-and-run and avoiding getting charged criminally.

It is crucial to let your attorney know the facts of the case so that you can strategize about what, if anything, to say to law enforcement.  That may mean simply providing insurance information, saying nothing, giving the full side of the story or only enough information to get your car released from impound.

Civil Compromise?

A civil compromise is no longer allowed in hit-and-run cases in California.  The decision in California vs. Dimacali, held that misdemeanor hit-and-run can no longer be civilly compromised.  This is a big blow to those charged with hit-and-run as a way to avoid being convicted and allow for the resolution of the case after paying out-of-pocket expenses.

This means the importance of having a skilled hit-and-run lawyer in Los Angeles is key to obtaining a favorable outcome.  Contact attorney Ross Erlich today.

Some Defenses

By nature, hit-and-run cases lead to slightly more dismissals than other crimes.  This is because there are many defenses and other elements of the crime that can be difficult to prove.  Some typical defenses include, but are not limited to:

  • No property damage
  • You did not realize there was an accident
  • You were misidentified as the driver of the vehicle

Attorney Ross Erlich

If you or someone you know has been charged with hit-and-run, it is important to contact Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich as soon as possible so that the proper investigation and fact-gathering can be done on the case.

Attorney Ross Erlich knows how, and when, to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence, or even file a motion asking the judge to throw out some of that evidence from the case.  Attorney Ross Erlich knows when to leverage plea deals, how to best position his client to negotiate those deals to avoid a conviction for something that carries a 2-point DMV penalty, get a reduction in the charges or pursue a diversion that would prevent any conviction from occurring in the first place.

Because these charges are serious and prosecuted aggressively, it is important that Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich examine all possible avenues for resolving the matter including diversion, reduction of the charges, and working with your insurance company.

For aggressive and vigorous defense of your rights, contact Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich today.

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