A pedestrian was struck and killed in Santa Ana just days before Thanksgiving on Nov. 20, 2022. A day before the fatality in Santa Ana, a Long Beach resident was killed while walking in Anaheim. Another pedestrian was fatally struck in Garden Grove on Nov. 6. Two days before that, a man was killed while walking in Irvine.
The driver left the scene in these cases, opening themselves up to hit-and-run and other charges.
If you are involved in any accident involving property damage or injury, do not worsen your situation by fleeing the scene. Instead, contact Corrigan Welbourn Stokke, APLC right away and wait for law enforcement. Our defense team will safeguard your rights and do everything legally possible to minimize your consequences.
Misdemeanor Charges in Hit-and-Run Accidents
California Vehicle Code §20002 directly addresses minor hit-and-run accidents. Whenever one driver causes damage, the driver must identify themselves to others involved and provide their contact information. This is true even in minor fender-benders in parking lots.
Failing to meet this requirement can result in misdemeanor charges. The maximum penalty is up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Offenders can also be penalized with 3 years of probation and 2 points on their California driving record.
Related crimes can lead to additional charges.
Driving without a license can be charged as a misdemeanor with the same penalties as hit-and-run. If charged as a lesser infraction, a fine of up to $250 is possible. A driver also charged with first-time driving under the influence (DUI) faces misdemeanor charges. A fourth DUI within 10 years will be charged as a felony.
Felony Charges in Hit-and-Run Accidents
Hit-and-run charges become felonies if someone other than the driver is injured or killed.
California Vehicle Code §20001 mandates that someone guilty of a hit-and-run accident that resulted in death or serious injury must serve a minimum of 90 days in county jail and up to 4 years in state prison. Fines generally range between $1,000 and $10,000.
A driver convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter or vehicular manslaughter receives an additional and consecutive 5 years in state prison.
A third offense of DUI with injury is automatically charged as a felony.
Possible Defenses to Hit-and-Run Charges
Certain facts must be proven by the State in order for a jury to convict. For example, for DUI-related hit-and-run charges, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The State also must prove that the defendant knew they had caused property damage or injury.
Other defenses include the defendant was not behind the wheel at the time of the accident or that the only damage or injury was to the driver and no one or nothing else.
Charges of any level must be taken seriously. Your personal freedom, professional future, and driving record are at stake. The attorneys at Corrigan Welbourn Stokke, APLC are former prosecutors who understand how to weaken the district attorney’s case. We work as a team, giving every client the collective experience of more than 100 years.
If you are accused of fleeing the scene of an accident, contact the defenders at Corrigan Welbourn Stokke, APLC. Reach us today by calling (949) 251-0330.