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

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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.