Leaving Scene Without Exchanging Information
With all of the population in Los Angeles, I've handled thousands of hit and run cases over the 26 years of practicing criminal defense. The prosecutors need to prove that you or someone you love who was driving a motor vehicle hit another motor vehicle or was hit by another motor vehicle and got in an accident.
It doesn't matter whose fault the accident is. It matters that there was some sort of property damage. That would be the hit, and if someone drove away without exchanging information, that would be the run part of it.
If it's just property damage, the person could be charged with a misdemeanor hit and run under California Vehicle Code 20002. On the other hand, if someone is being hurt, it could be set as a felony hit and run under California Vehicle Code 20002.
The bottom line is, if you get in an accident, regardless of who is at fault, you must give the other person your information. This can become a bit tricky. What if you hit a parked car and there's nobody there, and it's late at night? If you want to be safe ultimately, the next move would be to dial 9-1-1 and let them know that you struck the parked car.
Let them know where you are, who you are, give proof that you contacted 9-1-1, and then you would be good about your responsibilities. In addition to that, you would want to put a note on the car with your contact information on it, and then you would cover yourself as far as the hit and run go.
Retain a Defense Lawyer Immediately
So, you see, it's meant to protect against someone hitting another vehicle and then not financially taking responsibility for it. That's why we have the hit and run rules, and if you're charged with a hit and run, you're going to need an attorney right away.
I see all the time that people get involved in some accident, even if they've been rear-ended. For some reason — maybe they feel they're intoxicated, perhaps they don't have their driver's license or insurance — they decide to drive away without exchanging information, or they leave the vehicle there and run away — that would also be classified by a hit and run case in Los Angeles County.
Car Accident Causing Property Damage
The prosecutors have to prove that you got in an accident that caused property damage. So, you could not even hit another vehicle — if you hit someone's wall or someone's street.
If it causes property damage, it meets the requirement for the first step of a hit and run. The second thing they have to prove is that you left the scene without exchanging information. Often, people will leave the scene and then try to come back later and give the information. That may or may not fix everything.
The bottom line is you left the scene, so technically, it's still a hit and run. The issue will be whether or not the prosecutors are going to deal with a case like that or whether the police are going to deal with a case like that. So, you now have a pretty good idea of what the police need to prove when it comes to a hit and run. They're going to turn the case into the prosecutor, and the prosecutors will decide whether to file the case.
If you're involved in either a misdemeanor or felony hit and run accident, pick up the phone now. Make the call. We'll sit down and discuss the defense strategies. I will deal with the case, make the right decisions, and act as a buffer between you and the police for your hit and run matter. Hedding Law Firm is a Los Angeles criminal defense law and offers a free case consultation at (213) 542-0940; you can fill out our contact form.