What to Do After a Hit-and-Run in California
The penalties for hit and run in California can be serious. First and foremost, you most likely will be arrested, in which case you will need to contact a bail bondsman. This important professional in the criminal justice process will help you get out of custody and home so you can better deal with the coming legal consequences.
The law will treat your case according to the circumstances. In other words, not all hit and run cases are alike. Some bring graver consequences than others. No matter what the circumstances are, an experienced attorney will be necessary to mount a legal defense for hit and run violations.
Overview of Hit and Run Laws in California
There are two types of hit and run violations in California: misdemeanor and felony. Vehicle Code 20002 VC governs misdemeanor cases. It essentially defines a California misdemeanor hit and run as a traffic accident where a participant flees after the accident, and the only damage caused was to property.
Vehicle Code 20002 VC requires all drivers involved in an accident to pull over to the nearest safe location and remain present until the situation is legally resolved. This is true no matter how small the property damage turns out to be.
Felony hit and run cases are governed by Vehicle Code 20001 VC and are hit and run cases that involve bodily injury or death. Because of the gravity of these situations, the resulting legal consequences are most often more severe than those involving misdemeanor cases.
Although no one is hurt in California hit and run misdemeanor cases, the penalties for Vehicle Code 20002 hit and run violations can be somewhat stiff. Offenders of misdemeanor hit and run laws in California can be fined up to one thousand dollars. Jail is also on the table. An offender can be jailed for up to 6 months for committing this crime.
Penalties for Vehicle Code 20001
The penalties for Vehicle Code 20001 hit and run violations are much harsher than the penalties for Vehicle Code 20002 hit and run violations because the offense is classified as a felony. Guilty persons can be fined from between one thousand and ten thousand dollars. They also can be imprisoned in a state penitentiary for up to three years.
The facts of the case, whether misdemeanor or felony, will determine how harsh the penalties will ultimately be. For example, if a felony hit and run case causes death, then the prosecutor will be looking for more prison time than if the crime caused a bruise on someone’s arm.
It is important to note that felony hit and run in California is a wobbler, meaning it can be tried in court as a misdemeanor or a felony. If the prosecutor tries it as a California misdemeanor hit and run, then the defendant is only looking at one year in custody at a jail, and not a state facility.
If you are involved in a hit and run, you should get to the authorities as soon as possible. If you are placed under arrest, contact a bail bondsman to get you out of custody. After that, you will need to find an experienced attorney who is competent in providing defendants with a strong legal defense for hit and run cases. Only with an experienced advocate will you be able to adequately defend yourself against the charges, and hopefully avoid the penalties for hit and run.
The vehicle code establishes three different defenses to hit and run charges. The first requires a defendant to establish that only the defendant’s property or body was damaged. The second requires the defendant to prove that they didn’t know about the damage caused. Finally, a defendant can mount a defense by proving he or she was not driving the car that caused the damage. If a defendant can prove any one of the above three instances, then he or she will escape the charge.