SAN FERNANDO VALLEY HIT AND RUN DEFENSE LAWYER
What can you do to protect yourself if you were involved in a hit and run accident? This is the key question on most people’s mind when they call me after being involved in a hit and run accident in the San Fernando Valley.
The first thing I would suggest as a Hit and Run lawyer in Encino, CA is to deal with the situation, versus burying your head in the sand and doing nothing. By not facing it, you simply make the situation worse.
People get in accidents every day and the police and prosecutors know that this is a fact of life in a busy metropolis like the San Fernando Valley, CA. What they cannot accept is those that do not live up to their responsibilities.
So my first piece of advice as a Hit and Run attorney in your effort to shift the tide in your favor is to sit down with an experienced San Fernando Valley criminal defense attorney that has traveled the road you are about to travel and had success in protecting their client’s reputation, freedom and criminal record. I have been practicing as a Hit and Run lawyer in San Fernando and Van Nuys, CA for over 25 years and can help you in this regard.
If you believe that the prosecutors and police cannot prove that you were the driver of the car at the time of the accident, then this is something you need to discuss with a solid defense attorney and decide your strategy moving forward. There is no set strategy in every hit and run case.
These are fluid situations and how you proceed depends on the circumstances surrounding your case. One thing I know for sure is that trying to deal with it your self is not a good idea and can end in disaster for you and your family. Make sure you have a attorney by your side to make sure your rights are protected at all times.
In choosing the right attorney, you should definitely sit down with the attorney face to face and get a feel of their “bedside manner”, so to speak. In other words, is this someone you want representing your interests with the judge and prosecutor.
If you like them, then the judge and prosecutor probably will as well. If they come off abrasive or rude, then they are probably that way in court as well. Like anything in life, there are good ones and bad ones…this goes for attorneys as well.
Last, I would make darn sure that the attorney you are considering hiring frequently appears in the courthouse that your case is pending. If they are there all the time, then they will know what to do, who to talk to and how to get you the best possible result.
Give me a call today if you need legal representation for your case. I have been practicing in San Fernando Valley for over 20 years.
GENERAL LAW CALIFORNIA HIT AND RUN CASES
The key thing that you have to do if you have hit property is to make sure that the owner of the property is given you contact information (name, driver’s license and insurance) before you leave the scene.
If someone is yelling, screaming and threatening you at the scene of an accident, then you can leave for safety and immediately call 911, report the accident and tell them you left the scene because the other party is a nut and you fear for you safety. The prosecutor is not going to prosecute this scenario because they know you have a built in defense.
According to California Vehicle Code § 20001 a driver that gets into an accident which results in injury or death must stop and meet certain requirements such as exchange of information as to name, insurance, address. California Vehicle Code 20002 covers misdemeanor hit and run cases.
If you fail to meet the requirements set forth in the vehicle code, you may be charged with a hit and run. Once found guilty of hit and run, clearing your criminal record without the services of a hit and run lawyer in Encino, CA will be next to impossible.
To be found guilty of a hit and run, the burden of proof is on the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that: you were involved in the accident; that you knew an accident occurred; that you knew someone was injured/killed or that the accident was of such a nature that it would be probable that someone would be injured/killed; and that you failed to meet the requirements above.
Penalties for a hit and run conviction can be severe and include: up to 9 years to life in prison; Felony charge; Up to $10,000 fine; Revocation of your driver’s license; Impoundment of your vehicle; DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) school; Points on DMV record; Community service; Probation; Criminal record for life.
CALIFORNIA CRIMINAL JURY INSTRUCTION 2140 FOR FELONY HIT-AND-RUN
California Criminal Jury Instructions 2140 has to do with someone failing to perform a duty following an accident which causes a death or injury. Of course, that duty is going to be to identify yourself and give your information.
You cannot just leave the scene of an accident regardless of whose fault the accident is. When it comes to these hit-and-run cases that cause injuries, this is very serious because this can take your driver’s license away for a year or more.
It can cause you to have to go to prison and a host of other punishments that you cannot easily get over. There are certain elements for this crime that have to be proved. As an experienced hit and run attorney, and I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years, so I’ve had to battle these cases out in the jury trials across the San Fernando Valley.
Failure to Perform Duty After Accident
When it comes to this type of a crime, the judge is going to instruct a jury by saying the defendant is charged with failing to perform a legal duty following a vehicle accident that caused death or injury to another person.
This is basically a hit-and-run accident. In order to prove this crime, the people – or the State of California – that’s the prosecutors – are going to have to prove that (1) while driving, the defendant was involved in some sort of accident. That can be any kind of an accident.
A person could be sitting at a red light waiting for it to change and some dummy comes flying up behind him and hits him from behind. That person then panics and drives away, so even though that accident wasn’t their fault, you still have a duty to stay there and exchange information with the other driver.
You can’t just drive away and if somebody gets seriously hurt, you could be held responsible for it. Once you have exchanged the necessary information, you may want to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney to find out if you have a case worth pursuing.
Accident Causing Injury
The second element related to failure to perform a duty or a hit-and-run accident in the San Fernando Valley is the accident caused some sort of an injury. Usually, when you’re talking about Vehicle Code Section 20001, 20003 and 20004, you’re talking about a Vehicle Code Section where somebody has been injured.
It could be a permanent injury, a serious injury, or someone could even have died. So, that’s one of the requirements to charge somebody with a felony. So, if the injury is not a serious injury and it’s a little soft tissue injury, then these jury instructions won’t apply, and those Vehicle Code Sections won’t apply because it will be a misdemeanor versus a felony hit-and-run accident.
So, that’s usually where the rub is. Sometimes, people are claiming injuries, so they can get money, but the reality is they’re really not hurt that bad and it’s not fair to hold a defendant responsible to a hit-and-run accident under these circumstances. Just make sure you discuss your case with a hit and run lawyer in Van Nuys, CA to make sure if the case is actually worth pursuing or not.
Knowledge of Causing Injury
The third element that has to be proven in a hit-and-run accident is that the defendant knew that he or she had been involved in an accident that injured another person or knew from the nature of the accident that is was probable that another person had been injured.
This covers a lot because a lot of times people will somehow graze somebody or maybe they do something crazy and they don’t even touch anybody, but they cause an accident between one vehicle or more than one vehicle.
If the person knew or reasonably should have known under the circumstances that they caused an accident, they’re going to have to stop and get out and talk to the other party, exchange information and obviously, try to help the person if you caused some sort of a horrible accident.
Now there’s arguments on these cases, because a lot of times people say, I had no idea that I caused this type of injury to this person, and therefore, there’s no way that I should be held responsible for this. So, this is definitely one of the elements that’s subject to attack and defense when it comes to hit-and-run cases.
Willfully Failing to Stop
The fourth element has to do with the defendant willfully failed to perform one or more of the following duties: (1) you have to immediately stop at the scene of the accident. If you don’t stop and you keep driving – I’ve had clients drive two to three miles away then come back – technically, that’s a hit-and-run accident.
I don’t know if the prosecutors are going to file that case if you come back. Other clients have gone in the next day. So, there are all sorts of scenarios that can occur, but the bottom line is you have to stop at the scene of the accident and you have to stop immediately.
If you didn’t do that, technically you will be in violation. The second requirement you have is to provide reasonable assistance to any person that’s injured. So, if somebody is lying on the ground, you have to call 9-1-1.
You don’t have to perform any medical procedures, but maybe help get them out of the street if they’re going to be hit by a car. In other words, if you get in an accident and someone is seriously hurt, you have to help them.
You can’t just leave them for dead, because if you do that the prosecutors and police when they catch you, are obviously going to charge you and they’re going to try to get punishment for that type of behavior.
The next thing you have to do is give to the person that was struck or occupants, or any police officer at the scene of the accident, the following information. You have to give your name, your current address and you have to give the registration to the vehicle, your insurance.
You have to give them some information so that they’re able to – if it’s your fault – they’re able to get compensation for their injuries, for their vehicle. So, you have to basically cooperate and give them the information. If you don’t do that, then obviously you’re going to be charged with a hit-and-run.
One big thing I see is a lot of times people will hit a parked car in the middle of the night. What do you do then? Well, the best thing to do is call 9-1-1. I hit a parked car. I feel bad. What do I do? Now you have it all documented. You’re set.
Give the information. Another thing that would acceptable but is a little bit dangerous, you could just leave all your information on a piece of paper – name, your driver’s license number, insurance, phone number – all your information on a note and clip it to the person’s window so that way.
Technically if they get the note, you will have fulfilled our requirement and they can’t get you for a hit-and-run accident. Of course, this is dangerous because if the note somehow flies away or they don’t get it, and then somebody gets your license plate, you could be charged with a hit-and-run accident.
CONTACT A HIT AND RUN DEFENSE LAWYER
I’ve been doing these hit-and-run accidents now for twenty-five years. We have you come in. We go over everything and then we design the plan that’s best for you, your life, your reputation, your freedom and everything that’s important to you.
At the Hedding Law Firm, we know the seriousness of a hit and run charge and we do whatever we can for our clients to get them the best possible results; either a dismissal or a lesser charge.
Our criminal defense lawyers have a combined 75 years of experience and have all the necessary skill and knowledge to aggressively and efficiently fight in court on your behalf. Call to set up an appointment with a hit and run lawyer in San Fernando Valley. We offer free consultation.