Any person who operates a motor vehicle and is involved in an accident is required by law to stop in a safe place, provide information to the owner of whatever property may have been damaged (car, property, person, etc.), and render aid to anyone who was injured if necessary. Those who cause property damage and are unable to identify or contact the property’s owner are legally required to leave a note with contact information and file an accident report with the police. Failure to do these things constitutes a hit and run.
If you have been charged with a hit and run, you should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about your legal rights and options.
When police investigate hit and run cases, they typically contact the suspect and ask that person to bring the car to the police station and give a statement. However, making a statement is not always in the suspect’s best interest. In fact, experienced hit and run lawyers recommend against answering questions without first seeking legal counsel.
When a suspect is charged and convicted of a hit and run, sentencing usually takes into account:
- The nature of the accident
- The extent of damage
- Personal injuries
- Cooperation with law enforcement
- Criminal record
The police know that individuals have the right to remain silent before first consulting a lawyer, and exercising this right does not constitute a refusal to cooperate. It is always advisable to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Sentences can range from a suspended license and fines to serious jail time. In addition, those convicted of a hit and run may lose their vehicle.
Hit and Run Law
Hit and run law is governed by individual state law. In every state hit and run is considered a serious crime. Hit and run law define this crime as failure to stop after a vehicle accident to exchange information (name, license number, and other pertinent information) with other involved parties. In cases of injury, hit and run law requires a person to also address the needs of victims as is necessary, whether that includes calling emergency response professionals or waiting until help arrives. In cases where there are no witnesses or the victim is not present, hit and run law requires that a person responsible for an accident leave a note with all pertinent information. Under hit and run law, this requirement doesn’t impede on a person’s right to refrain from the admission of guilt because this exchange of information is considered a report and not a guilty plea.
Hit and run law statistics show that approximately eleven percent of all vehicle accidents are hit and run car accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the rate of hit and run car accidents increased by fifteen percent from 1998 to 2002 throughout the United States. Law enforcement officials work hard to identify the perpetrators of hit and run car accidents and will pursue punishment for these offenses under the hit and run law.
Under hit and run law, the punishment for this crime will vary depending on the state where the crime took place, the extent of personal or property damage that was caused, the perpetrator’s cooperation with legal authorities, and the offender’s past criminal record. Under the hit and run law, a hit and run car accident that resulted in death is automatically charged as a felony crime regardless of who was at fault in the accident.
The punishment for a hit and run law violation can range. In some cases, a hit and run law violator will be required to compensate the victim for his/her losses, may have their license suspended or revoked, and may also face criminal/punitive fines. In more serious cases an offender may also be required to serve jail time and may face points on his/her insurance or DVM records. Hit and run law violators may also lose their license or insurance coverage completely as a result of their crime.
Under hit and run law, the victim in this accident has the legal right to seek compensation for their damages in a court of law. In some cases, where a perpetrator is not identified, a victim may be forced to cover the costs of a hit and run car accident on their own. In some cases, insurance companies extend coverage to hit and run victims and compensate insured victims up to a certain amount.
Law enforcement officials and legal professionals work hard to identify the perpetrators of hit and run violations. A suspect may be required to present themselves and their vehicles to the authorities in order to make a statement about the accident. Cooperation with hit and run law authorities can make a big difference in the outcome of a legal case. Whether you are the victim or perpetrator of a hit and run crime, it may be extremely beneficial to contact a professional attorney who can advise you of your rights and options in a hit and run law case.
Hit and run is a serious charge that no one wants on their record. If you or a loved one has been accused of a hit and run, you need to ensure that you fully understand all of your rights and options. An experienced hit and run lawyer can provide you with the legal advice and assistance you need to fight a hit and run charge. Please contact us today for a FREE consultation with a qualified hit and run lawyer who will aggressively pursue your legal interests.