Charged With Hit And Run? You Need Jennifer Gerstenzang, A Skilled Traffic Lawyer On Your Side!
San Diego prosecutors routinely file charges for hit and run violations. Surprisingly, a person can be charged with a hit and run even if he or she is not at fault for the accident. There are many reasons why a person may not stay at the scene of an accident to exchange information. However, if there is damage to another person or their property, leaving the accident can turn into a criminal charge.
Pursuant to California Vehicle Code sections 20001, 20002, and 20003 it is unlawful for a driver to leave the scene of an accident without notifying the owner of the property of the driver’s name and address.
Obligations Pursuant to Vehicle Code:
Depending on the nature of the accident, different obligations exist:
- When property is damaged and the owner is not around:
Sometimes a person can hit a parked car or run into a stationary object. When this is the case, the person must leave a conspicuous note with their name and address (contact information) as well as a statement about what occurred to ensure the owner of the property will see the information. Additionally, the person is to call the police without unnecessary delay and report the accident.
- When property is damaged and the owner is around:
Drive to a safe and nearby place away from traffic. Assess the damage to the vehicles and exchange contact information. If requested, show your driver’s license and vehicle registration.
- When another person is injured
This is the most serious of circumstances and, accordingly, a person has greater obligations. He or she must provide their name, current address, the information of any passengers in the accident, and the registration number of the vehicle to the person who is injured, if they are stable and not going to the hospital, or to the police. Additionally, he or she is obligated to render the injured person reasonable assistance. This includes possibly driving them to the hospital or calling for an ambulance.
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Jennifer did an excellent job helping me get a traffic violation dismissed. She was very attentive & always listened with interest. She was also very prompt when I called, usually answering within a couple of rings. I have already recommended Jennifer to several people & will continue to do so! - Jeremy
Elements of the Charge
In order to prove that a person is guilty of a hit and run, the Prosecution must prove:
- Damage to the victim’s person or passengers, vehicle, or property; AND
- The person did not exchange information or leave his/her information in a place where the victim could find it.
Is Hit And Run A Misdemeanor or Felony Charge?
A hit and run can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor cases are filed under California Vehicle Code 20002, and felonies will be filed under California Vehicle Code section 20003. If only property is damaged, then it will likely be filed as a misdemeanor. However, if the accident results in injury to another person, it is possible for the matter to filed as a felony.
If there is a conviction, the penalty imposed will also be determined based on the facts of the case, and whether it is charged under CVC 20002 or 20003.
Making a Good Faith Effort
One may be able to avoid prosecution if he/she made a good faith effort to leave their contact information for the owner of the property. If the person charged can prove that they tried to leave contact information and that the information was either lost or never communicated, there may be a chance that the case will be reduced or dismissed. However, proving that a good faith effort was made may be difficult, especially if there are no other witnesses.
No matter whether a person is at fault party for the accident or not, the law requires all parties stay long enough to exchange their current and reliable contact information.