California Hit and Run Defense Attorneys
California Hit and Run – Overview (CVC 20001 and CVC 20002)
California law requires the driver of any vehicle involved in any traffic accident to pull safely out of traffic and immediately stop. If you leave the scene of an accident without identifying yourself, you may be prosecuted under California’s “Hit and Run” laws pursuant to California Vehicle Code Sections 20001 and 20002 (CVC 20001 and CVC 200021).
Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully defending our clients charged with a hit and run offense. In this section, we would like to share with you how you can be prosecuted for a charge of hit and run. We include some possible defenses and explain how you can be punished if you are ultimately convicted of a violation of either CVC 20001 or 20002. We will conclude this section with some Frequently Asked Questions.
What is my responsibility if I am involved in a traffic accident?
If you are involved in a traffic accident while driving a vehicle, under CVC 20001 and CVC 20002 you must stop your vehicle:
- Whenever someone is injured or seriously injured;
- Whenever someone is killed;
- Whenever property damage was caused to a vehicle;
- Whether the car you hit was moving or parked;
- Whenever you hit a person, animal or any type of property other than a vehicle.
If you hit a parked vehicle or cause damage to any property, you must make an effort to locate and notify the owner of the vehicle or property you damaged. If you are unable to locate the owner, you must leave a note in a conspicuous place on the vehicle or property you damaged that includes your name, address and a statement describing the details of the accident.
Regardless of whether anyone was injured or killed, if you are involved in a traffic accident while driving, you must identify yourself to the driver(s) or passenger(s) of the other vehicle(s) involved in the accident and to any police officer(s) on the scene. You must offer “reasonable” assistance to the injured person, call an ambulance, or take the injured person to the hospital yourself if it is apparent that the injured party needs medical attention and if you are requested to do so by the injured party.
Prosecution for a California Hit and Run
If you leave the scene of an accident, you may be prosecuted for misdemeanor hit and run if only property damage was done to a vehicle or other object. However, if someone other than yourself was injured or killed, you can be charged with “felony” hit and run. California hit and run laws apply to every car accident, regardless of:
- Who was at fault;
- How much damage was done; or
- How seriously someone (other than yourself) was injured.
You can be prosecuted for hit and run under the following circumstances:
- You leave the scene of an accident;
- Without first identifying yourself to the other party or parties involved; and
- Another person’s property is damaged in the accident; or
- Someone other than yourself is injured or the accident results in death.
Defenses to a California Hit and Run
Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience defending hit and run cases. We can argue on your behalf that some or all of the above referenced elements cannot be established beyond a reasonable doubt. If we are successful, you cannot be found guilty of committing hit and run. Possible defenses to hit and run will depend on the facts of the case, but may include:
- You were not driving the vehicle when the accident occured;
- You did not willfully leave the scene of the accident;
- You did not willfully fail to exchange information;
- You had no knowledge that you were involved in an accident where property damage, death, or injury occurred;
- You were unable to provide reasonable assistance.
Sentencing and Punishment for California Hit and Run
Hit and Run causing property damage only under CVC 20002 is a misdemeanor offense. You face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1000 dollars.
“Felony Hit and Run” causing injury under CVC 20001 is what is known as a “wobbler” offense in California – meaning you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the accident and your criminal history (if any). A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to one year in jail and by a fine between $1000 and $10,000. A felony conviction carries up to three years in jail plus the same fine.
Felony Hit and Run causing permanent, serious injury or death under CVC 20001 is also a wobbler but carries mandatory minimum sentencing of 90 days to one year in jail as a misdemeanor or between two to four years in prison as a felony. A $1000 to $10,000 fine may also be imposed.
Additionally, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will add 2 points to your driving record increasing the likelihood of having your driving privilege suspended. Also, your car insurance provider will likely raise your premiums after the accident is reported.
Finally, you can be sued by the party who’s property you damaged or the person you injured (beyond what your insurance provider agrees to pay). If you kill someone in a car accident, the family of your victim is entitled to file a civil wrongful death lawsuit against you.
Why hire Wallin & Klarich if I am charged with hit and run?
Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been aggressively protecting the rights of our clients for over 30 years. If you or someone you care about is facing a charge of hit and run you need to speak to one of our attorneys experienced in hit and run crimes today. Our knowledgeable attorneys can answer questions more specific to the facts of your case and will thoroughly examine all of the evidence against you to determine whether or not every element of the crime can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
If we cannot defeat the charges against you, we will aggressively negotiate for a sentence of probation so that you can avoid serving jail time. With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, Wallin & Klarich has the skill and experience to help you get the best possible result in your case.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.
All of the information provided on this page was retrieved from the following source:
1. [California Vehicle Code Section 20001 & 20002: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=veh&group=19001-20000&file=20000-20018]↩