By law, anyone involved in a traffic accident has the responsibility to identify themselves to the other party, regardless of who was at fault, and provide their insurance information. 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.
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.
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.
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.
There also is the potential for a civil compromise in a hit and run case. The California Penal Code section 1378 lays out the requirements and the authority for the court to allow a civil compromise to be dismissed. Is states, in relevant part, “If the person injured appears before the court in which the action is pending at any time before trial, and acknowledges that he has received satisfaction for the injury, the court may, in its discretion, on payment of the costs incurred, order all proceedings to be stayed upon the prosecution, and the defendant to be discharged therefrom; but in such case the reasons for the order must be set forth therein, and entered on the minutes. The order is a bar to another prosecution for the same offense.”
For aggressive and vigorous defense of your rights, contact Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich today.
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